A RuPaul’s “Drag Race” and “We’re Here” star has been accused of raping a production assistant after a crew party in 2020.
Darius Jeremy Pierce, who performs under “Shangela,” was named in a lawsuit filed by former “We’re Here” production assistant Daniel McGarrigle in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday.
HBO’s award-winning series “We’re Here” features drag queens who travel to small towns and try to get locals to participate in drag events.
The lawsuit alleges that Pierce raped McGarrigle in a Louisiana hotel room after he had fallen asleep fully clothed on Feb. 25, 2020. It claims that Pierce had been buying McGarrigle shots all night and that he had been throwing up before going to bed.
“Pierce rubbed his back as he vomited and brought him a cup of water,” the suit says. “After McGarrigle had finished throwing up, Pierce suggested he spend the night with him in his room. … Sick and exhausted, McGarrigle agreed. He laid down in Pierce’s bed fully clothed, shoes and socks still on.”
According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, “McGarrigle awoke, the suit says, with his pants pulled down and with Pierce attempting to penetrate him.”
“McGarrigle woke up to a cold liquid being poured on his face, burning his eyes and nose, the suit says,” per the report. “McGarrigle alleges that the liquid was a type of poppers, a chemical inhalant that contains alkyl nitrites, sometimes used during sex to relax muscles and create a euphoric head rush. The suit alleges that McGarrigle felt weak, disoriented and overcome by fear.”
The report continues, “McGarrigle screamed ‘No’ and tried to fight off Pierce but was overpowered, with Pierce allegedly telling McGarrigle, ‘I know you want it, and you’re going to take it.’ The suit, which also names ‘We’re Here’ production company Buckingham Television, alleges sexual assault, gender violence, false imprisonment and sexual harassment.”
McGarrigle says that he did not immediately report the incident to law enforcement or the production company out of fear of losing his job. He says he attempted to maintain a normal relationship, but claims that Pierce sexually harassed him on a “daily basis” until he finally resigned in July 2021.
Caleb Shoop, a production coordinator on Season 2 of “We’re Here,” says that McGarrigle told him about the incident, but was scared to do anything about it because “he thought that it might keep the show from being what it is for the queer community.”
Pierce denied the allegations in a statement to the Times through his lawyer. He claimed that the allegations “perpetuate damaging stereotypes.”
“I can’t begin to explain how hurt and disgusted I am by these totally untrue allegations. They are personally offensive and perpetuate damaging stereotypes that are harmful not only to me but also to my entire community,” he said. “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.”
A representative for the television show told the newspaper that their internal investigation found “insufficient evidence to support these allegations.”
“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.”