Hilarie Burton says Chad Michael Murray came to her defense amid alleged assault

Hilarie Burton is expressing her gratitude to “One Tree Hill” co-star Chad Michael Murray, who she says defended her after 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” filed against Schwahn.

In the chat, she recalled how Murray stepped in to protect her after witnessing some of Schwahn’s inappropriate behavior while filming the fourth season of the teen drama series in Honey Grove, Texas, in 2007.

“Chad walked up and said, ‘What are you doing?’ He said that to our boss at the bar,” said Burton, who played Peyton Sawyer on “One Tree Hill” for six seasons. “He saw our boss grab me in front of a bunch of people and you know Chad had nothing to lose because he knew our boss hated him anyway. A lot of people had a lot to lose so you don’t quit 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.

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Chad Michael Murray (left) and Hilarie Burton in 2005.

Actress Sophia Bush, who co-hosted “Drama Queens” and was married to Murray from 2005 to 2006, said she believes her ex-husband and co-star’s heartthrob status on the show gave him the ability to protect Burton from Schwahn.

“(Murray) was protected as No. 1 on the call sheet,” Bush said. “He had the most power, so he could come up and push our boss off you and get into a fight. And I’m glad he did. I want everyone to follow that lead.”

Burton and Bush were among 18 women who accused Schwahn of sexual harassment while on the set of “One Tree Hill,” which ended its nine-season run in 2012.

Speaking to Variety in 2017, Burton said Schwahn twice forced himself on her and kissed 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 paralyzing,” she said at the time. “I never wanted to be the leading lady of any show ever, ever, ever again.”

Although Schwahn never publicly addressed the allegations, he was fired as showrunner of “The Royals” in 2017 after 25 cast and crew members claimed he engaged in “repeated unwanted sexual harassment” while on the set of the E! series.

Elsewhere in the “Drama Queens” discussion, Bush praised Murray for being an ally and said she hoped others would follow his lead.

“I have sympathy for the reality that people are afraid that 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 it’s OK to look at the ground — 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 episode of “Drama Queens” below.

Need help? Visit RAINN’s National online sexual assault hotline or that National Resource Center for Sexual Violence website.

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