For six seasons, Hilarie Burton played Peyton Sawyer, the female lead on “One Tree Hill,” a Warner Bros. teen drama created by Mark Schwahn. For the first two seasons, Burton said, she struggled against Schwahn’s efforts to gratuitously sexualize her character — fights that earned her a reputation for being “difficult.”
But after the show’s second season, according to Burton, inappropriate behavior by Schwahn that she and her costars dismissed as social awkwardness grew more intense.
“Things took a turn in season three,” Burton said. “That’s when Mark decided that I was his muse.”
Speaking to Variety, Burton recalled years of harassment and assault that she alleges Schwahn perpetrated against her and other women on the show. She claimed that Schwahn twice forced himself on her, kissing her on the mouth without warning and against her will. She said Schwahn touched her inappropriately while in the presence of his wife. All in all, she described a culture on “One Tree Hill” in which Schwahn pitted women against each other, was verbally abusive, and spread false rumors about physical relationships he claimed to have had with female cast members.