One Tree Hill creator Mark Schwahn has officially been suspended from working on his current show The Royals after the whole OTH cast and crew teamed up to accuse him of sexual misconduct. “E!, Universal Cable Productions and Lionsgate Television take sexual harassment allegations very seriously, investigate them thoroughly and independently, and take appropriate action. Lionsgate has suspended Mark Schwahn from The Royals as we continue our investigation,” the studios told Variety four days after the accusations surfaced.
It all began on Nov. 11, when OTH writer Audrey Wauchope took to Twitter to describe the "demoralizing and confusing" harassment she claims to have suffered at the hands of Mark.
"One of the 1st things we were told was that the showrunner hired female writers on the basis of their looks. That's why you're here — he wants to f--k you," explained Audrey of she and her partner Rachel Specter's first experience writing for One Tree Hill. Audrey said that being told that up front hurt her self-esteem in the writer's room for years. "Maybe you're only here because you're a body, not a mind," she wrote. "It creeps into your thoughts and keeps you up at night and makes you wonder."
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.— Audrey Wauchope (@audreyalison) November 12, 2017
Audrey claimed that the work environment was toxic for everyone. "The staff sat on couches. Female writers would try to get the spot where the showrunner wouldn't sit as to not be touched." She said many of the male writers would try to protect the girls by leaving no space for Mark, but it often failed. "He'd just squeeze his disgusting body in between us and put his arms around us, grinning," she said. "He pet hair. He massaged shoulders. I know he did more but not to me so they're not my stories to share."
But the harassment allegedly got worse. "Men on staff were shown naked photos of an actress he was having an affair with," she wrote. "Naked photos she didn't know were being passed around . Naked photos they didn't want to see. This is such a violation, both to the actress and to the men forced to look and participate."
Rachel went on to describe Mark allegedly trying to get Rachel to dump her fiance before the wedding to be with him and skipping the all-staff sexual harassment seminar. Though Rachel didn't name Mark, it's clear he's the one she's referring to based on the fact that she said it was her first show, and she wrote another tweet praising the men on Cougar Town, another show she worked on.
To strengthen her case, many of the actresses from One Tree Hill tweeted their support. "For the record. I stand with Audrey. @audreyalison #BurnItDownSis. And to the bad guys? Yeah. #F--kYourSorry," wrote Sophia Bush. Hilarie Burton agreed, saying "Burn it down, sis. Love your bravery. I back your play 100%. Let's talk. Xo." Bethany Joy Lenz simply tweeted "thank you" to the writer. The next day, the men of OTH did the same.
“The women of OTH have always been strong and incredible," wrote Chad Michael Murray on Twitter. "Today they’ve made us all even more proud by standing as a beacon of what is right, and continuing to lead & change the atmosphere of society." Robert Buckley agreed, writing, “To the women of OTH that have come forward and bravely used their voices, I want you to know I believe you, I respect you and I support you.” Bryan Greenberg, Austin Nichols, Stephen Coletti and Antwon Tanner all sent their support as well.
17 members of cast and crew signed an open letter saying “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.” Many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally. More than one of us is still in treatment for post-traumatic stress," according to Variety.
Audrey also described another experience with sexual assault, though it's unclear if it was related to her claims against Mark. "When my 'friend' trapped me in a room and forced me to watch him masturbate, it felt a little more serious than him 'showing me his d--k.' I asked him to stop. He said no. He told me no one would hear me scream. For an hour I imagined how he was going to rape me." So far there is no statement from Mark.