Hilarie Burton: Chad Michael Murray protected me from One Tree Hill showrunner
Co-stars stand up against show’s creator
Actress Hilarie Burton has revealed that her One Tree Hill co-star Chad Michael Murray was one of the few people who stood up for her when she was sexually harassed by the show’s creator, Mark Schwahn.
The pair played love interests Peyton Sawyer and Lucas Scott during the popular US teen drama’s run.
Burton was one of 18 women, including cast and crew members, who spoke up in 2017 to say they had been sexually harassed by Schwahn.
The showrunner was dismissed from the programme that same year, but has never commented on the allegations.
A brave move
During a recent episode of the Drama Queens podcast – hosted by Burton’s former One Tree Hill co-stars, Sophia Bush and Bethany Joy Lenz – she spoke about Chad Michael Murray’s role in standing up for her against Schwahn.
At the time of the incident, Murray walked up to the show’s boss and said: “What are you doing?”, according to Burton.
She added that Schwahn felt “so comfortable” that he “grabbed” her “in public with her boyfriend standing there”.
Protection for No 1 call
Bush – who was briefly married to Murray – said she believed he was protected from Schwahn because he was “No 1 on the call sheet”.
Burton has previously spoken publicly about the “abuse” she claimed to have suffered at the hands of Schwahn, who she said “groomed” her for his actions by being verbally abusive and touching her inappropriately and against her will.
Fear of the consequences
In a 2020 interview with People magazine, Burton admitted she was afraid to speak out about what had happened to her because she was warned she would be labelled “a troublemaker” and her career would be over.
She added: “I didn’t say anything for a decade. And as a result of that, people were abused after me. The guilt that comes with that is really difficult.”
Burton and her fellow cast members’ allegations about Schwahn’s behaviour paint a picture of harassment, psychological and emotional manipulation and people feeling unsafe while at work on the show.
If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, support is available via your nearest Rape Crisis organisation. All services are specialist, independent and confidential. Find out more via the website.
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