Hilarie Burton Says ‘One Tree Hill’ Creator Mark Schwahn Forced Himself on Her

Cast and crew members detail harassment after issuing joint statement condemning showrunner

Hilarie Burton
D Dipasupil/Getty Images

“One Tree Hill” star Hilarie Burton detailed sexual assault allegations against showrunner Mark Schwahn on Friday, saying that he forced himself upon her on multiple occasions, once while on a call with then-CW President Dawn Ostroff.

Burton said in an interview with Variety that Schwahn began pursuing an inappropriate relationship with her in the show’s third season, when he decided that she was “his muse.” Then, while on location during filming of the show’s fourth season, he kissed Burton in a limo while pitching the show’s fifth season to the network.

“I’m leaning in listening, and when it’s Dawn Ostroff’s turn to talk, he just leans over and starts kissing me,” she said. “I push him off, but I can’t say anything, because he’s on the phone fighting for our show to stay on the air. I’m just in this position where I’m thinking, ‘You’ve got to take it, Hil. Just laugh it off. You’ll get to Wilmington [North Carolina] in 45 minutes.’”

She also said that Schwahn stuck his hand in her pants in 2006, which was corroborated by Burton’s co-star Danneel Ackles, and that he kissed her at a party for the show’s cast and crew.

After Burton told him to stop making inappropriate contact with the women on the show, Burton told Variety that he “screamed” at her for half an hour. “He went crazy,” she said. “I know exactly what this man’s hands look like, and they are my f—ing nightmare. I think of hands when I think of him, because they were relentless.”

Ackles also spoke to Variety about Schwahn’s relentless pursuit of a relationship with her, including showing up to her apartment and refusing to leave. Several writers also spoke out against Schwahn’s behavior, saying that he repeatedly sexualized the women on staff and made inappropriate contact.

Former “One Tree Hill” writer Audrey Wauchope was the first to accuse Schwahn of misbehavior on Twitter earlier this week. However, she was soon backed up by the female stars of the hit show, including Sophia Bush, Burton and Bethany Joy Lenz, who released a joint statement saying they had also been “psychologically and emotionally” by the showrunner, calling it “an open secret.”

“Many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally. More than one of us is still in treatment for post-traumatic stress,” the statement read. “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.”

Schwahn was later suspended from his current E! series “The Royals” as the network and producers launched an investigation into his behavior.

A total of 25 female cast and crew members of “The Royals” issued their own statement accusing Schwahn of similar behavior.

“Despite hearing rumours about his behaviour on One Tree Hill, those of us involved from the early stages went into the filming of the pilot hoping they were just that – rumours. By the time we wrapped this had irrevocably proven not to be the case,” the letter read.