Hours after it was first reported that former One Tree Hill writer Audrey Wauchope had accused One Tree Hill creator Mark Schwahn of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct, the cast and crew have come together to tell their story.
In a letter published by Variety, Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton, Bethany Joy Lenz and 13 other women who worked on the show, came together to express their support and confirm the claims of Schwahn’s behavior while at the helm of the beloved teen drama.
The letter begins:
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.”
It continues: 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.
They added that through it all they stood by each other and supported one another by setting up “safe spaces” to talk about his behavior and also to “warn” any new women that joined the show in any capacity. In the letter, they also explained why they didn’t say anything publicly, writing: 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.
The women ended the letter with a message of gratitude for Audrey Wauchope for finally coming forward and to offer their continuous support. They signed the letter,
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
As of now, Schwahn is currently the man behind E!’s drama The Royals, and after fans called for him to be pulled from the show, the network released a statement: “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.”
In addition to the letter from the female stars, many of One Tree Hill‘s male cast have taken to their social media to offer their support for their former co-stars and crew. James Lafferty, who played Nathan Scott, offered a passionate note, stating, “I applaud every woman on OTH, every woman on earth, who stands up to a system that has failed them in the past and in this moment. I stand with them. I will always be a champion of a fair, respectful workplace and encourage any human to make their most earnest attempt to preserve the balance necessary for us all to live and work together safely. I encourage every human to pursue justice when that balance is willfully upset. So many of the individuals that made One Tree Hill, cast and crew, embody the virtues of the story we were trying to tell. I hope One Tree Hill will continue to stand as a beacon of hope, grace and love to the fans who have kept the show close to their hearts for so long. I hope that now we can add “change” to that list of virtues.”