Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton, Bethany Joy Lenz have accused One Tree Hill’s former showrunner Mark Schwahn of sexual harassment. The women, along with the rest of the female cast members and crew, detailed their experiences with the Hollywood executive in an open letter to Variety on Monday (Nov 13).
The letter comes in the wake of a tweet posted by Audrey Wauchope, who accused a co-worker of sexual harassment while working on the show. Though Audrey, one of the series' writers alongside Rachel Specter, didn’t mention his name, the open letter did.
“To use terminology that has become familiar as the systemic 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,’” the letter said.
It continued: “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 cast members wrote they were told to remain silent, and that coming forward about the harassment would be detrimental to their careers and the show. To compensate, the women created safe spaces for themselves to talk about what was happening and get support from each other.