Mark Schwahn, the One Tree Hill creator who was serving as the creator/showrunner of E! drama The Royals, has been terminated following a monthlong investigation into allegations of harassment.
“We have concluded our investigation and Mark will not be returning to The Royals,” Lionsgate TV, the studio that produces the series, said in a statement on Thursday. “The fourth season of the show has already completed production and will air as scheduled on E! in the spring.” E! declined to comment beyond the Lionsgate statement.
Eighteen female cast and crew members who worked on the 2003-2012 CW drama alleged sexual harassment and emotional manipulation by Schwahn. They released a statement on Nov. 13 declaring their support for One Tree Hill writer Audrey Wauchope, who had claimed via Twitter that Schwahn had touched her without permission and harassed her in other ways during her time on the show. (She did not refer to him by name.)
“Schwahn’s behavior over the duration of the filming of One Tree Hill was something of an ‘open secret,’” the letter said. “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.”
Two days after that letter, Royals star Alexandra Park, issued a statement of support to the One Tree Hill women on Twitter, saying, “I have a responsibility as someone who was working under Mark Schwahn on The Royals to acknowledge these claims. I am devastated to admit to myself, to my colleagues, and to this industry that I too, have been exposed to this reprehensible behavior.” A letter that included the signatures of 25 female cast and crew members from The Royals thanked the women of One Tree Hill, whose solid gold backbones have moved us enormously” and accused Schwahn of“repeated unwanted sexual harassment of multiple female members of cast and crew.”
Elizabeth Hurley issued a statement, explaining that while she never experienced or witnessed any sexual harassment by Schwahn, she was “immensely saddened” by Park’s allegations and felt that she “let down a younger cast member.”
“I may have let down Alexandra,” she concluded, “but it won’t happen again on my watch.”
After news of Schwahn’s firing broke, Bush took to Twitter to praise the women who came forward.
“43 women came forward. To the ones who did and to the ones who didn’t or couldn’t, I hope this news is a salve to your souls. To the other predators out there? I hope this is a lesson that sometimes, even if it takes time, justice is served. You’re next,” wrote Bush.
Hilarie Burton also took to Twitter to address his firing in a series of four tweets.
“1. The reason we cannot condone “degrees of harassment” is because one day you get your butt or boob grabbed at work. And you laugh it off. You become conditioned. “She’s such a good sport” they say. And then? You meet a Schwahn. A Weinstein.
2. I had no idea how bad OTH really was until I was taken in by the amazing cast and crew of @WhiteCollarUSA. Thank you to them for showing me how it’s SUPPOSED to be. Thank you to the directors who called even though I wouldn’t audition. Thank you to @GreysABC and @ForeverABC.
And most recently @LethalWeaponFOX. You have treated me with such respect and kindness. And my ability to speak up now, all these years later, is because I have seen what filmmaking should be. You can be talented AND kind. And thank you to my OTH sisters.
4. You women are amazing. When I left all those years ago, I could have never anticipated how strong this bond would remain. It’s a good day, gals. Your art matters. It’s what got me here. Xoxoxo.”