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.
Schwahn was first suspended by E! on Nov. 15 in the wake of accusations of sexual harassment by several stars of One Tree Hill, including Sophia Bush and Hilarie Burton. “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, though not referencing him by name, had touched her without permission and harassed her in other ways during her time on the show. (Wauchope spoke out after 19 women and men alleged harassment by Supergirl and The Flash co-showrunner Andrew Kreisberg, who was suspended and then fired.) “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.”
Royals star Elizabeth Hurley issued a statement as well, 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.” She concluded: “I may have let down Alexandra but it won’t happen again on my watch.”
After Schwahn’s removal, Wauchope tweeted, “The end. Thank you to Lionsgate and E! for making this decision and validating the women and men who came forward. We burnt it down sis.” Soon after, Bush tweeted: “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.”