Updated Nov. 20, 2017, 9:05 a.m. PT: Hilarie Burton, one of One Tree Hill‘s most famous stars and the woman who was groped by Ben Affleck on live TV, is now further detailing the ways she says One Tree Hill showrunner Mark Schwahn assaulted her.
In an interview with Variety, Burton said Schwahn forced himself on her several times, twice kissing her without her permission and once putting his hand down her pants while she was at a concert with him and his wife. One of the kissing incidents happened in a limo, she said, while she and Schwahn were discussing the show’s upcoming season. The second time was at a wrap party for a shoot, when she says he kissed her at a bar.
“Right on the mouth. It was something I had to get out of. It wasn’t a peck. It wasn’t ‘Hey, sis, how’s your day?’ It was a boyfriend kiss,” Burton said.
In addition to those incidents, Burton described how Schwahn created an environment on set where people were verbally abusive and women were pitted against one another.
One Tree Hill was pretty much required viewing for all millennials. Little did we know that behind the scenes, showrunner Mark Schwahn created an allegedly abusive environment that some of the stars are still struggling to move past today.
Over the weekend, Audrey Wauchope, a writer on the show, claimed in a series of tweets that she was sexually harassed while working on One Tree Hill. Wauchope never named Schwahn, but on Monday, 18 of the show’s former female cast and crew members — including Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton and Bethany Joy Lenz — published an open letter claiming Schwahn harassed and abused them.
“Many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally,” the letter read. “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.”
In the letter, the women claimed that Schwahn’s treatment of them was “deeply upsetting, to traumatizing, to downright illegal,” and that they were put into positions that they felt were “physically unsafe.”
The letter has been met with overwhelming support from the male stars of One Tree Hill, who have been taking to social media to stand with their costars and colleagues.
— James Lafferty (@ThisIsLafferty) November 14, 2017
— Sophia Bush (@SophiaBush) November 14, 2017
To my sisters/all the women of OTH that have come forward and showed their bravery. I want u to know that I love u and I support u 😁😁💯💯🙌🏾🙌🏾
— antwon tanner (@antwon_tanner) November 14, 2017
I stand with all my OTH sisters. We have to change. We have to be better. All of us. This is unacceptable.
— AUSTIN NICHOLS (@AustinNichols) November 14, 2017
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.
— Robert Buckley (@robertbuckley) November 14, 2017
Shocked and saddened to hear what the women of OTH had to endure. I’m proud of them for speaking up. I support them fully. And I hope that their courage to tell the truth, will help put an end to the pervasive culture of harassment in the work place. There’s no place for it.
— Bryan Greenberg (@bryangreenberg) November 14, 2017
I want to acknowledge the women of OTH who have penned their letter with deep wounds from a culture unacceptable for anyone, at any age, and in any business.
I have the utmost respect of your position in righting the wrongs you have endured. I stand for you, for better…
— Stephen Colletti (@StephenColletti) November 14, 2017
While accusations like these, sadly, continue to be a near-daily occurrence, this situation is unique simply because of the sheer number of men who are speaking out alongside the women who were victims. Here’s hoping that’s a trend that can continue.