Showrunner Mark Schwahn has been suspended from his series “The Royals” at the E! network following allegations of sexual harassment.
Earlier this week, former cast and crew members of the hit CW show “One Tree Hill,” which Schwahn created in 2003, banded together to accuse him of inappropriate behavior after writer Audrey Wauchope suggested Schwahn sexually harassed women on the staff.
“E!, Universal Cable Productions and Lionsgate Television take sexual harassment allegations very seriously, investigate them thoroughly and independently, and take appropriate action,” the three companies said in a statement to HuffPost. “Lionsgate has suspended Mark Schwahn from ‘The Royals’ as we continue our investigation.”
Schwahn hasn’t publicly addressed the allegations, and HuffPost was unable to reach a rep. CNN reported an attorney for Schwahn didn’t answer an inquiry.
After Wauchope tweeted about harassment she said she experienced on an unnamed TV series, 18 people who worked on “One Tree Hill,” including actresses Sophia Bush and Hilarie Burton, published a joint letter in Variety. They wrote that over the series’ nine-season run, “many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally.”
Male cast members, including Austin Nichols, James Lafferty, Lee Norris, Stephen Colletti and Bryan Greenberg, shared messages of support. Series star Chad Michael Murray has yet to comment.
Bush took it further, describing the E! entertainment news site as “awfully silent” on the cast’s letter.
Now, cast members from Schwahn’s current series, “The Royals,” are speaking out. Actress Alexandra Park released a statement on Wednesday saying that she, too, has been “exposed to this reprehensible behavior.” She didn’t elaborate.
“In the past, people were afraid to come forward in these situations because they were terrified of losing an opportunity so hard to come by, an opportunity that meant so much to them,” Park wrote. “I am proud and grateful that today, we can take a different path.”
Following Schwahn’s suspension, 25 female actors and crew members, including series regular Merritt Patterson, issued a joint statement saying that the creator “repeated unwanted sexual harassment of multiple female members of cast and crew.”
“This statement is a collection of voices from those women involved in ‘The Royals’ who would like to finally respond to the behaviour of our showrunner,” they wrote, “who felt the inclination to abuse his power and influence in an environment where he had it over women who felt they did not.”
The women say they were inspired to come forward with their own stories by the “One Tree Hill” cast.
Schwahn’s suspension is unlikely to impact the upcoming season of “The Royals,” which wrapped filming in September and is expected to premiere sometime next year.
The statement from E!, Universal Cable Productions and Lionsgate Television didn’t mention anything about the future of the series.
This has been updated to include the statement from “The Royals” cast and crew.