A former production assistant has filed a civil lawsuit against drag performer Shangela, accusing the RuPaul’s Drag Race alum of raping him in a Louisiana hotel room following a wrap party for the star’s HBO reality series We’re Here.
Daniel McGarrigle, 39, filed a civil suit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday alleging Darius Jeremy “DJ” Pierce, who performs as Shangela, raped him in the entertainer’s hotel room on Feb. 25, 2020.
First reported by the L.A. Times, McGarrigle is also alleging sexual harassment, false imprisonment, and violation of the Ralph Act, which bans threats of violence against a person based on their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion.
Pierce adamantly denied all charges in a statement to the media, saying the accusations had been fully investigated and found baseless by investigators.
According to court documents viewed by People, McGarrigle alleges Pierce raped him at a party for cast and crew at the conclusion of the first season of We’re Here, which stars Shangela, Bob the Drag Queen, and Eureka O’Hara. McGarrigle claims Pierce plied him with alcohol and was “heavily flirtatious” with him. McGarrigle claims Pierce later asked him to accompany him to his room to help pack for a flight the following morning. McGarrigle claims he felt sick from the alcohol, and Piece let him lay on his bed fully clothed. He says he later awoke to find Pierce had poured poppers onto him and was attempting to penetrate him. He says he screamed “no” but was unable to stop the assault.
“I tried to fight him off, but I was weak and he was stronger than me, and he held me down,” McGarrigle told the L.A. Times. Several people who worked with McGarrigle told the paper that McGarrigle had told them about the alleged rape previously.
McGarrigle says in the suit that he also informed the show’s co-creators, Steven Warren and Johnnie Ingram, in September 2021. In November of 2022, he filed a report with police in Ruston, Louisiana, where the assault is alleged to have occurred. McGarrigle says in the lawsuit he did not come forward sooner as he feared the loss of his job as Pierce’s assistant. He continued working for Pierce until July of 2021 when he says he quit following repeated instances of verbal abuse.
In a statement released to the LA Times, Pierce denied all of McGarrigle’s allegations, saying they had been found baseless by an external investigation.
“I can’t begin to explain how hurt and disgusted I am by these totally untrue allegations,” Pierce said in the statement. “They are personally offensive and perpetuate damaging stereotypes that are harmful not only to me but also to my entire community. An external investigation into this embittered individual’s claims previously concluded that they were completely without merit. 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. As a hardworking and outspoken drag entertainer for more than a decade, I know that I am far from alone in battling ignorance, bigotry and prejudice, all of which played a role in the filing of this complaint. That is why I will fight this entirely meritless lawsuit and not allow it to destroy me and those I love, or harm the causes we all stand for.”
Buckingham Television, which produces We’re Here and was also named in the suit, echoed Pierce’s denials and claimed the allegations were found to be without merit.
“Buckingham Television, the production company for ‘We’re Here,’ received a complaint late summer 2021 regarding an incident that was alleged to have occurred in early 2020. Buckingham and HBO take the safety and well-being of personnel on our shows very seriously, and Buckingham immediately launched an investigation. The investigation concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support these allegations.”
Shangela still stars in We’re Here. The three drag performers document their visits to small towns across the U.S. where they introduce the locals to the drag experience.
"To be a part of a show like We're Here and give an opportunity to tell the stories of these people around our country, it feels right. It feels right and it feels purposeful. I say that this season is going to be the best season of We're Here so far," Shangela told The Advocate last year.