One Tree Hill showrunner Mark Schwahn is the latest Hollywood figure to be accused of sexual assault, adding to an unfortunately growing list of such instances. Allegations have come to light on Monday after the cast and crew of The CW series came out with an extensive letter backing up their former colleague, Audrey Wauchope’s claims of being sexually harassed by the TV exec.
Wauchope, who is a former writer of the coming-of-age show, took to her personal Twitter account over the weekend to share her and writing partner Rachel Specter’s horrific experience with Schwahn. Allegedly, the showrunner did a myriad of things that made the girls feel uncomfortable and unsafe in their own workplace, including unwelcomed touching and improper advances. Despite not name-dropping anyone in her statement, she made it clear who she was talking about, backing up men that she worked with on another project, Cougar Town as “aces.” Her bold revelation quickly drew traction and support from other women including her former co-workers in One Tree Hill.
Supporting Wauchope, a handful of One Tree Hill cast members including Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton, and Bethany Joy Lenz have sent out a letter condemning Schwahn’s vicious behavior. The actresses are joined by several other crew members in backing up the writer and even calling the showrunner’s atrocious behavior somewhat of an “open secret.” Unfortunately, they were unable to be more vocal in chastising him during the time that the show is still filming because they were told 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,” something that they were not willing to risk. Excerpt from the letter courtesy of Variety:
“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.”
Both Burton and Bush have also expressed their personal support to Wauchope, taking it to their respective Twitter accounts to back up the story. Check out the tweets below:
— Sophia Bush (@SophiaBush) November 14, 2017
— Hilarie Burton (@HilarieBurton) November 14, 2017
One Tree Hill ran for 9 seasons from 2003 to 2012, and hearing these horrific stories knowing that countless women who worked on the show had to endure this treatment is sickening. Not only were they subjected to this kind of working environment, they were left feeling trapped with no other choice but to grit their teeth believing that speaking out will cut their careers short. If there is any good coming out of these slew of scandals popping out, it is that victims get validation and encouragement to call out their oppressors.
Schwahn’s representatives have yet to issue a statement regarding these allegations. But E! Network which currently airs the producer’s ongoing series, The Royals, shares that they are already carefully looking into the matter.