Following allegations of sexual harassment on the set of his previous show One Tree Hill, Mark Schwahn has been fired from The Royals. (Bustle reached out to Schwahn's rep for comment regarding his firing, but did not receive an immediate response). In a statement to Deadline on Thursday, The Royals' production company, Lionsgate, said that they had concluded their investigation on the creator/executive producer/showrunner, and decided that he will not be returning to the series. "The 4th season of the show has already completed production and will air as scheduled on E! in the spring," the statement continued. A decision has reportedly not been made about Season 5.
The announcement comes one month after Schwahn was suspended from The Royals, a move made in response to sexual harassment accusations from the cast and crew of both One Tree Hill and The Royals. Schwahn has not yet publicly responded to the claims.
Back in November, the allegations first came to light in a series of tweets from One Tree Hill writer Audrey Wauchope that detailed her first writing job. Though she did not name the showrunner she was referring to, she claimed the experience left her feeling “demoralized” and “like an imposter,” because she was allegedly told that female writers were hired for the series based on their looks, not their talent. She went on to discuss various degrees of alleged unwanted touching and alleged misconduct from the showrunner, including an incident in which he allegedly passed around an actor’s private nude photos without her knowledge.
One day later, an open letter signed by 18 women who had worked on One Tree Hill confirmed Wauchope had been talking about Schwahn. They referred to his alleged behavior as an “open secret” that was ignored by supervisors, who they said “were not the protectors they were supposed to be.” Over the course of the show’s airing from 2003 to 2012, they claimed Schwahn allegedly manipulated them “psychologically and emotionally," put them in “uncomfortable positions," and spoke to them “in ways that ran the spectrum from deeply upsetting, to traumatizing, to downright illegal." They also claimed a few of the women had felt "physically unsafe," and at least one woman had her "career trajectory threatened."
Only hours after Schwahn was suspended from The Royals pending investigation, the series' star Alexandra Park issued a statement claiming to have experienced similar misconduct on the E! drama. “I am devastated to admit to myself, to my colleagues, and to this industry that I too, have been exposed to this reprehensible behavior,” she claimed on Twitter.
Park’s colleagues also spoke out regarding Schwahn, alleging he engaged in “repeated unwanted sexual harassment” in a statement signed by 25 female cast and crew members. They wrote:
“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. Who felt the inclination to abuse his power and influence in an environment where he had it over women who felt they did not. This manifested itself in the repeated unwanted sexual harassment of multiple female members of cast and crew … Where we should all collectively have felt pride over jobs hard won and roles much loved, we felt undermined as artists and creatives. And in many cases, no more than a sum of body attributes.”
Schwahn is the latest of many high-profile Hollywood men to be accused of sexual misconduct, many of whom have faced similar repercussions. Powerful figures like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., and Andrew Kreisberg have all been either fired from or forced to sever ties with their respective projects after allegations surfaced.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.