“He had the most power, so he could come up and shove our boss off you and get in a fight,” added Sophia Bush, “And I’m glad that he did.”
“One Tree Hill” star Hilarie Burton said costar Chad Michael Murray was one of the few men who used their power and position on set to stand up to their boss — creator and showrunner Mark Schwahn — after witnessing him allegedly sexually assault her at a bar.
On her Drama Queens podcast with costars Sophia Bush and Bethany Joy Lenz, the trio looked back at filming on location in Honey Grove, Texas in 2007. Calling it a “nightmare period” for her, Burton said the trip was where Schwahn began to assault her.
In 2017, in an open letter to Variety, 18 women who worked on the show accused him of sexual harassment. Shortly after, women from his then-current show “The Royals” made similar claims, leading to him being fired from the show. Schwahn has never responded to any of the allegations.
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Speaking about her alleged experience, Burton said she and Schwahn first flew to Honey Grove together to announce that they would be filming there, She claimed that on the flight back, he assaulted her, before doing it again in the car on the drive to the studio from the airport. She said that he went on to brag to costar Daneel Ackles that the two “made out the whole time,” which sparked a confrontation between her and Daneel.
“This was really the last three months where my blood was boiling and I didn’t know how to process it anymore. You can see that I’m not there. I was so in shell mode,” said Burton.
“I didn’t know if you were going to say that part on the show,” Bush chimed in. “People assume that you had this very intense moment, you’ve been assaulted in an alley by a stranger and it was horrible. Most of what, statistically, we all go through is something happens with someone you know. You had this horrific moment with our boss that was so unacceptable and it was inside a container of many great memories and that’s where it’s sticky and where we as a society need to get better of understanding many things are true at the same time.”
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When asked why Burton didn’t report what happened at the time, she said she “told all sorts of people” — as Bush exclaimed, “And people saw it!”
“Chad walked up and goes, ‘What are you doing?’ He said that to our boss in the bar. He watched our boss grab me in front of a lot of people, and you know, Chad didn’t have anything to lose cause he knew our boss hated him anyway,” said Burton. “A lot of people had a lot to lose, so you don’t speak up when you have a lot to lose. But [Schwann] felt so comfortable that that was not something that he had a problem with. ‘I can do whatever I want to her in public with her boyfriend standing there.'”
Added Bush: “You got accosted by our boss at a bar in front of our friends and they looked at the ground because they were afraid to confront him.”
“Thank god, Hilarie, that you had that moment with Chad, who was already so at odds with our boss,” Sophia continued. “He was protected as the No. 1 on the call sheet. He had the most power, so he could come up and shove our boss off you and get in a fight. And I’m glad that he did. I want everybody to follow that lead.”
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While Murray apparently did do something at the time, the ongoing alleged assaults on the set of that show left Burton thinking she should “never, ever, ever someone to take a risk for you.” Then, speaking to crew members who may have witnessed misconduct at the time but didn’t act, she added, “I don’t expect anybody to have done anything because we were in a different era at that point.”
The whole conversation made Bush understandably frustrated.
“What I find unacceptable is that it’s usually us, it’s the women, figuring out how to protect each other, how to not let somebody go into the room with the boss alone anymore, how to make sure we have a side text thread so that somebody can feel supported,” she said. “I’m so angry at all of these dudes in power who stand around and do nothing.”
“I get that so many people on crews can’t jeopardize their jobs because they can’t jeopardize their families,” she added, but said she’s “so mad at the other actors who don’t do anything, I’m mad at the producers who don’t do anything, because we’re not supposed to have to do this alone. It’s the girls, always, and it’s tiring.”
The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline — 800.656.HOPE (4673) — provides free, 24/7 support for those in need.
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