RuPaul’s Drag Race and We’re Here star Shangela has been accused of rape in a civil lawsuit.
Filed in Los Angeles, it alleges that Darius Jeremy ‘DJ’ Pierce, who goes by the stage name Shangela, raped a former We’re Here production assistant while filming the first season of the hit HBO show.
Daniel McGarrigle, 39, alleges the encounter occurred in a hotel room following an after-work party in Monroe, Louisiana in February 2020.
Pierce, 42, has denied the allegations characterising them as “entirely meritless”.
McGarrigle is seeking unspecified damages from Pierce and the show’s production company, Buckingham Television.
Pierce competed in seasons two and three of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
The lawsuit says Pierce purchased and handed McGarrigle five shots of alcohol and two mixed drinks at the party, and asked McGarrigle to come back to Pierce’s hotel to help him pack for an early flight.
It states that McGarrigle “immediately threw up in the toilet” at the hotel room and Pierce then allegedly suggested McGarrigle spend the night in his room, saying: “If you want to lay down in my bed until you feel better, you can do that.”
Suit says McGarrigle was ‘fearful of losing his job’
The lawsuit said McGarrigle agreed and passed out on Pierce’s bed fully clothed.
McGarrigle alleges that he woke up with his pants pulled down and poppers being poured on the side of his face.
The lawsuit says McGarrigle then “felt Pierce on the lower half of his body, rubbing his penis against his buttocks, attempting to insert himself into his anus”.
McGarrigle claims he screamed “No!” and tried to fight Pierce off. The suit says that after the encounter, McGarrigle was “fearful of losing his job” and “did not immediately report the sexual assault to the authorities or to Buckingham TV” and tried to maintain a “cordial relationship with Pierce”.
McGarrigle resigned in the summer of 2021, it added.
Pierce says allegations ‘perpetuate damaging stereotypes’
In a statement, Pierce said the allegations “perpetuate damaging stereotypes that are harmful not only to me but also to my entire community”.
“This newest filing is nothing but an attempt to shake down both me and a well-regarded television company.
“No one should be fooled: it has no basis in fact or in law, and it will not succeed.”
According to his lawyer Daniel Gilleon, McGarrigle has been in contact with the Ruston Police Department in Louisiana regarding the alleged incident since December but no charges have yet been filed.
A representative for We’re Here said the network and Buckingham Television received a complaint from McGarrigle in July 2021 regarding an incident that allegedly occurred “in early 2020” and added that Buckingham and HBO “take the safety and well-being of personnel on our shows very seriously”.
It added that Buckingham “immediately launched an investigation” which concluded that there was “insufficient evidence to support these allegations”.
We’re Here stars former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara and Shangela, who travel to small cities and towns across the US, transforming locals into drag queens.