“One Tree Hill” actress Hilarie Burton says co-star Chad Michael Murray came to her defense when the CW series’ showrunner Mark Schwahn sexually assaulted her.
On the “Drama Queens” podcast, Burton described how Murray stepped in to protect her after the assault on location shooting the show’s fourth season in Honey Grove, Texas in 2007.
The actress said that she and Schwahn — who she refers to as “the boss” rather than by name on the podcast — had to travel together to a Texas high school to inform them they’d be filming at their school.
“The flight back from that is when he assaulted me. He assaulted me again in the car on the drive from Raleigh to Wilmington, He went straight to set and he told Danneel [Ackles] that he and I made out the whole time, and it was fun, and he was trying to make her jealous. So, she confronted me about it and was like, ‘What are you doing?’ And I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’” Burton said. “So, then we had to go on this trip with him. And this was really, like, the last three months where my blood was boiling. I didn’t know how to process it anymore and you can see it in the episode. You can see that I’m not there… I look like shit, I’m not connecting in anyway.”
When asked why she didn’t report the incident, Burton said she “told everybody,” including Murray.
“Chad walked up and goes, ‘What are you doing?’ He said that to our boss in the bar,” Burton told co-hosts and former “One Tree Hill” stars Sophia Bush and Bethany Joy Lenz.
“He watched our boss grab me in front of a lot of people, and you know, Chad didn’t have anything to lose because he knew our boss hated him anyway,” she continued. “A lot of people had a lot to lose, so you don’t speak up when you have a lot to lose. But [our boss] felt so comfortable that that was not something that he had a problem with. [He thought], ‘I can do whatever I want to her in public with her boyfriend standing there.'”
Burton played Peyton Sawyer on the CW series.
Bush, who was married to Murray from 2005 to 2006, thinks that his role as the main character allowed him more protection when coming to Burton’s defense.
“He was protected as the No. 1 on the call sheet,” she said. “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.”
Burton originally shared the allegations against Schwahn in November 2017, saying he forced himself on her multiple times, including while on a call with then-CW president Dawn Ostroff. She was one of 18 women who accused Schwahn of harassment.
Burton said that the showrunner began to pursue an inappropriate relationship with her during the show’s third season because he decided she was “his muse.”