Hilarie Burton is expressing her gratitude to “One Tree Hill” co-star Chad Michael Murray, who she says defended her following an assault by the show’s creator, Mark Schwahn.
On Wednesday’s episode of the “Drama Queens” podcast, Burton addressed the sexual harassment allegations she and 17 other women involved in the production of “One Tree Hill” leveled against Schwahn.
In the chat, she recalled how Murray stepped in to protect her after witnessing some of Schwahn’s inappropriate behavior while shooting the fourth season of the teen drama series in Honey Grove, Texas, in 2007.
“Chad walked up and goes, ‘What are you doing?’ He said that to our boss in the bar,” Burton, who played Peyton Sawyer on “One Tree Hill” for six seasons, said. “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. A lot of people had a lot to lose, so you don’t speak up when you have a lot to lose.”
Murray starred on “One Tree Hill” for six of the show’s nine seasons, and his character, Lucas Scott, was a fan favorite.
Actor Sophia Bush, who co-hosts “Drama Queens” and was married to Murray from 2005 to 2006, said she believes that her former husband and co-star’s heartthrob status on the series afforded him the ability to protect Burton from Schwahn.
“[Murray] was protected as the No. 1 on the call sheet,” Bush 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 and Bush were among 18 women to accuse Schwahn of sexual harassment while on the set of “One Tree Hill,” which wrapped its nine-season run in 2012.
Speaking to Variety in 2017, Burton said Schwahn twice forced himself on her, kissing her on the mouth against her will. She also said Schwahn touched her inappropriately while in the presence of his wife, Diana.
“The fear of being forced into another one of these situations was crippling,” she said at the time. “I never wanted to be the lead female on any show ever, ever, ever again.”
Though Schwahn never publicly addressed the allegations, he was fired as the showrunner of “The Royals” in 2017 after 25 cast and crew members claimed he’d engaged in “repeated unwanted sexual harassment” while on the set of that E! series.
Elsewhere in the “Drama Queens” discussion, Bush commended Murray for being an ally, and said she was hopeful others would follow his lead.
“I have sympathy for the reality that people are scared they’re going to put a hole in the ship and then the ship is going to sink, but get over it and protect your people. Because this idea that looking at the ground is OK — it’s not,” she explained. “Thank God, Hilarie, that you had that moment with Chad, who was already so at odds with our boss.”
Listen to the full “Drama Queens” episode below.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.