'RuPaul's Drag Race' Star Shangela Accused of Rape

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 4 MIN.

DJ Pierce, a.k.a. Shangela, has been accused of rape, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Shangela is known from starring on "RuPaul's Drag Race" Seasons 2 and 3, as well as "RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars" Season 3, and is one of three drag artists who tour conservative parts of the U.S. on the HBO Max reality show "We're Here." The allegations were leveled by a former "We're Here" production assistant.

The drag icon denied the claims in a strongly worded statement, and the LA Times noted that a previous investigation turned up little evidence to support the claims. But a suit filed against Pierce and production company Buckingham Television painted a detailed picture of the alleged assault, and several people confirmed that the purported victim spoke with them about it before he reported the allegations officially.

"Daniel McGarrigle filed a lawsuit Wednesday [May 3] in Los Angeles Superior Court alleging that Darius Jeremy (DJ) Pierce, the actor who performs drag under the name Shangela, raped McGarrigle in a Louisiana hotel room following a 2020 crew party," the LA Times story detailed.

The suit alleges that McGarrigle "fell asleep fully clothed in Pierce's hotel room" after the show's Season 1 wrap party. McGarrigle was intoxicated, and vomited after arriving back at the hotel.

According to the suit, "Pierce rubbed his back as he vomited and brought him a cup of water," and then "suggested he [McGarrigle] spend the night with him in his room."

The suit contends that McGarrigle went to sleep without even taking off his shoes, but he woke up later on "with his pants pulled down and with Pierce attempting to penetrate him," the LA Times said.

"According to the suit, 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 article added.

Daniel McGarrigle
Source: Daniel McGarrigle

Because he feared for his job, the suit claims, McGarrigle did not immediately go to either the police or to the production company to report the alleged assault.

But, the suit says, McGarrigle continued to suffer unwanted attention, with Pierce "asking him out for drinks, touching with lingering hands various parts of McGarrigle's body such as his lower back and buttocks, face, stomach, knees, and thighs, while making suggestive comments about how good Plaintiff looked."

Pierce issued a statement in which he called McGarrigle an "embittered individual" and said the claims were "totally untrue," according to Entertainment Weekly.

Calling the suit's allegations "personally offensive" and saying they "perpetuate damaging stereotypes that are harmful not only to me but also to my entire community," the drag star said that a previous investigation "concluded that they were completely without merit."

"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," Pierce declared. "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."

The LA Times said a spokesperson for "We're Here" confirmed that the production company "immediately launched an investigation" that "concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support these allegations."

The story relayed that McGarrigle told at least two other people who worked on the show about the alleged rape, as well as his brother, Ryan, who was also employed as a production assistant and who took over as Pierce's assistant for production of the show's second season. "He definitely was upset and he was crying and it was concerning," Ryan recalled of the morning after the assault allegedly took place.

Production Coordinator Caleb Shoop said that though McGarrigle confided in him about the alleged assault, "he thought that it might keep the show from being what it is for the queer community" and hesitated to report it.

But after he left the show in July 2021, McGarrigle related his claims to "We're Here" co-creators Steven Warren and Johnnie Ingram.

"You always made my brother and me feel welcome and included. ... You and that family is the only reason I would not take it upon myself to out DJ [Pierce] for what he did to me," the LA Times quoted from a message McGarrigle purportedly sent to Ingram. "Because it would hurt my family and a show that is making a difference in my own LGBTQIA+ community."

McGarrigle voiced similar concerns while talking to the LA Times, the article said, saying that "the culture war being waged against LGBTQ+ people made coming forward difficult."

The story added that McGarrigle "expressed deep concerns that political and social conservatives will weaponize the allegations and use them to perpetuate the notion that drag queens – and LGBTQ+ people in general – are sexually perverse and dangerous to children."

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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