In a letter published by Variety on Monday, November 13, Bush and Burton along with 16 women who worked on the show, including Bethany Joy Lenz, Daphne Zuniga, Danneel Harris and Jana Kramer, expressed their support for writer Audrey Wauchope.
As previously reported, the scriptwriter took to Twitter on Saturday, November 11, to detail alleged sexual harassment she and her writing partner, Rachel Specter, went through with a showrunner — later identified as Schwahn — during her first writing job.
“Mark Schwahn’s behavior over the duration of the filming of One Tree Hill was something of an ‘open secret,’” Bush and company wrote in their letter. “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 women wrote that they supported each other through the experience and warned women who joined the show. “We also understood that no one was fully unaware [of what was happening on the set],” they continued. “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.”
The actresses and female crew members wrote that many of them were told that speaking out would result in the show, which aired from 2003 to 2012, being canceled and hundreds of people losing their jobs.
“This is not an appropriate amount of pressure to put on young girls,” they added. “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 group applauded Wauchope for her courage in speaking out and thanked male cast mates and crew members who reached out in recent days to offer support.
“They echo the greater rallying cry that must lead us to change: Believe Women,” they wrote in conclusion. “We are all in this together.”
Schwann is currently working on The Royals and E!, Universal Cable Productions and Lionsgate Television, the companies behind the show, said in a statement on Monday that they “are monitoring the information carefully.”