Elisabeth Harnois is the latest One Tree Hill actress to come forward with a story of abuse and harassment behind the scenes.
Harnois, who recurred as “Clean Teens” founder Shelley Simon on the WB-turned-CW drama, filled in as a guest co-host on the Jan. 30 episode of the “Drama Queens” podcast, where she recalled receiving unwanted advances from their “boss,” whom she did not name directly.
“The first few days were good,” she told podcast co-hosts Sophia Bush Hughes and Hilarie Burton Morgan of her time on the show. “Getting the call, I was excited. Getting there, I was excited. Then I had to have a dinner with my boss, and it ended with him inappropriately asking to come up to where he was putting me up … just to have some tea and talk more, because we were having quote-unquote good conversation about the character.”
She continued, “I didn’t know what to say, so I was just like, ‘Sure.’ I felt very uncomfortable. It was literally my first week, the first few days. He ended up, uninvited, massaging my feet. That’s where I became even closer with [my female co-stars], because it just made me understand so much more.”
That’s when Harnois put her foot down. “It came swift and quick, and I was like, ‘That’s not happening,’ and I sent him out the door,” she recalls. “He wasn’t as gross with me after that. I was very [direct].”
Harnois, like the podcast co-hosts do when they share their own stories, refers to this man simply as her “boss.” On a related note, a group of female One Tree Hill cast and crew members released a letter in 2017, accusing the show’s creator Mark Schwahn (aka their boss) of sexual harassment and other forms of abuse.
“Mark Schwahn’s behavior over the duration of the filming of One Tree Hill was something of an ‘open secret,'” read a portion of the letter. “Many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally. … Many of us were put in uncomfortable positions and had to swiftly learn to fight back, sometimes physically.”
Following her stint in Tree Hill, Harnois went on to guest-star on shows like Cold Case, Dirt, Without a Trace and 90210, before co-starring on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation for four seasons. She has appeared in several TV movies, including 2018’s The Christmas Contract, which starred several One Tree Hill vets.