The cast members and crew of the drama series “One Tree Hill” have written a letter accusing former showrunner Mark Schwahn of sexual harassment and offering support for their former colleague, Audrey Wauchope.
The cast members and crew, including stars Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton, and Bethany Joy Lenz, wrote Monday that they “have chosen this forum to stand together in support of Audrey Wauchope and one another” following statements made by Wauchope — a former writer on the series — on Twitter Saturday accusing Schwahn of harassment. In the letter, 18 women who worked on the show claimed, “Many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally. More than one of us is still in treatment for post-traumatic stress. Many of us were put in uncomfortable positions and had to swiftly learn to fight back, sometimes physically, because it was made clear to us that the supervisors in the room were not the protectors they were supposed to be. Many of us were spoken to in ways that ran the spectrum from deeply upsetting, to traumatizing, to downright illegal. And a few of us were put in positions where we felt physically unsafe. ”
In her Twitter comments, Wauchope described being subjected to frequent and unwanted touching by Schwahn, who she did not identify by name; seeing Schwahn show naked photos of an actress that he was having a sexual relationship with to staffers without the actress’ knowledge; and Schwahn calling Wauchope’s writing partner into his office to try to talk her out of getting married and into dating him.
Wauchope wrote Saturday, “I’m furious and sad and everything else for the women who have sat on that couch next to that man. And I’m furious and sad and everything else that years later I don’t feel safe to be able to do anything real about this and that it seems to be happening all over this town.”
A teen drama about a groups of young men and women growing up in North Carolina, “One Tree Hill” aired on the WB from 2003 to 2006, and on the CW from 2006 to 2012. Schwahn created the series, and was showrunner for the entirety of its eight-season run.
In a statement Monday, E!, Universal Cable Productions and Lionsgate Television — the companies behind Schwahn’s current show, “The Royals” — said, “We are monitoring the information carefully. E!, Universal Cable Productions and Lionsgate Television are committed to providing a safe working environment in which everyone is treated respectfully and professionally.”
Read the letter from the “One Tree Hill” cast and crew members below:
To Whom It May Concern,
All of the female cast members of One Tree Hill have chosen this forum to stand together in support of Audrey Wauchope and one another. To use terminology that has become familiar as thesystemic reality of sexual harassment and assault has come more and more to light, Mark Schwahn’s behavior over the duration of the filming of One Tree Hill was something of an “open secret.” Many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally. More than one of us is still in treatment for post-traumatic stress. Many of us were put in uncomfortable positions and had to swiftly learn to fight back, sometimes physically, because it was made clear to us that the supervisors in the room were not the protectors they were supposed to be. Many of us were spoken to in ways that ran the spectrum from deeply upsetting, to traumatizing, to downright illegal. And a few of us were put in positions where we felt physically unsafe. More than one woman on our show had her career trajectory threatened.
The through line in all of this was, and still is, our unwavering support of and faith in one another. We confided in each other. We set up safe spaces to talk about his behavior and how to handle it. To warn new women who joined our ranks. We understood that a lot of it was orchestrated in ways that kept it out of sight for the studio back home. We also understood that no one was fully unaware. The lack of action that has been routine, the turning of the other cheek, is intolerable. We collectively want to echo the calls of women everywhere that vehemently demand change, in all industries.
Many of us were told, during filming, that coming forward to talk about this culture would result in our show being canceled and hundreds of lovely, qualified, hard-working, and talented people losing their jobs. This is not an appropriate amount of pressure to put on young girls. Many of us since have stayed silent publicly but had very open channels of communication in our friend group and in our industry, because we want Tree Hill to remain the place “where everything’s better and everything’s safe” for our fans; some of whom have said that the show quite literally saved their lives. But the reality is, no space is safe when it has an underlying and infectious cancer. We have worked at taking our power back, making the conventions our own, and relishing in the good memories. But there is more work to be done.
We are all deeply grateful for Audrey’s courage. For one another. And for every male cast mate and crew member who has reached out to our group of women to offer their support these last few days. They echo the greater rallying cry that must lead us to change: Believe Women. We are all in this together.
With Love and Courage,
And Brave Crew,
Audrey Wauchope, Rachel Specter, Jane Beck, Tarin Squillante, Cristy Koebley, JoJo Stephens
And All the rest of the Women We Worked With Who Are Finding Their Voices as We Speak