Cast and crew members from “One Tree Hill” issued a statement Monday night in support of writer Audrey Wauchope following her allegations on Twitter that she was sexually harassed by showrunner Mark Schwahn.
While she didn’t name him directly, Wauchope wrote a string of tweets over the weekend about herself and her writing partner, Rachel Specter, while they worked on The CW series.
In response, the female stars of the hit show, including Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton and Bethany Joy Lenz, released a joint statement saying they had also been “psychologically and emotionally” by the showrunner, calling it “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,” the statement read. “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,” it continued.
In her tweets on Saturday, Wauchope said: “Female writers would try to get the spot where the showrunner wouldn’t sit as to not be touched. Often men would help out by sitting next to him, thus protecting the women … he’d just squeeze his disgusting body in between us and put his arms around us, grinning. He pet hair. He massaged shoulders. I know he did more but not to me so they’re not my stories to share.
“I’m furious and sad and everything else for the women who have sat on that couch next to that man,” she went on to say. “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.”
Wauchope later added, “I forgot we were staff writers on 2 shows. In the absence of a name I don’t want to implicate the good ones. The men of Cougartown are aces.”
“One Tree Hill” aired on the WB from 2003 to 2006 before moving to The CW until 2012.
Schwahn — who was with the teen drama for the entire eight years — is now on E!s “The Royals.”
“We are monitoring the information carefully,” a spokesperson for that network told TheWrap. “E!, Universal Cable Productions and Lionsgate Television are committed to providing a safe working environment in which everyone is treated respectfully and professionally.”
Wauchope and Schwahn have not replied to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Read the full statement from the former cast 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,
Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton, Bethany Joy Lenz, Danneel Harris, Michaela McManus, Kate Voegele, Daphne Zuniga, India de Beaufort, Bevin Prince, Jana Kramer, Shantel Van Santen, and Allison Munn
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
The statement from the “One Tree Hill” cast was first reported by Variety.