[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
RuPaul’s Drag Race fan favorite Shangela has been accused of rape by a former HBO production assistant.
The allegation was made in a lawsuit filed by Daniel McGarrigle in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday. According to court documents obtained by Deadline, the 39-year-old claimed the disturbing incident allegedly took place at a Louisiana hotel room in February 2020 after production wrapped for season one of We’re Here. Daniel recalled in the suit that the cast and crew celebrated the milestone with a party at a restaurant called El Toro, during which Shangela – whose real name is Darius Jeremy Pierce – “was heavily flirtatious with McGarrigle and insisted on buying him drinks.”
He claimed the A Star Is Born actor made him drink five shots and two mixed drinks at the bash, even though Daniel told the star he “did not drink often.” At one point, Shangela had the production assistant come back to his hotel room to help him pack for a flight the next day. But when the pair arrived at the room, Daniel claimed he “immediately threw up in the toilet.” The 41-year-old drag queen then offered for Daniel to stay over for the night and lay down on his bed until he felt better. The suit stated:
“Sick and exhausted, McGarrigle agreed. He laid down in Pierce’s bed fully clothed, shoes and socks still on.”
That’s when things turned into a nightmare, Daniel claimed. During the night, he allegedly “woke up to a cold liquid being poured down the side of his face,” which he later discovered was a type of “poppers,” and soon realized Shangela allegedly was sexually assaulting him. Daniel screamed “no” and tried to escape the alleged attack, but he “felt extremely weak.” The lawsuit said:
“Plaintiff was disoriented from the high he was experiencing from the poppers and the fear that overcame him during the sexual assault. Pierce overpowered McGarrigle and was able to hold him down.”
Daniel said he continued to feel disoriented and afraid during the assault, alleging that the former Dancing With the Stars contestant told him:
“I know you want it, and you’re going to take it.”
This is so, so awful. Following the attack, Daniel said he “did not immediately report the sexual assault to the authorities or to Buckingham TV” because he was “fearful of losing his job.” The assistant added that he “tried to maintain a cordial relationship with Pierce” afterward. However, he ended up resigning from his role in 2021.
We’re Here’s production company Buckingham Television, which is also named in the lawsuit, claimed a complaint was made in 2021 about the incident. However, a rep for the show told Page Six “insufficient evidence” was found to back these allegations:
“Buckingham and HBO take the safety and well-being of personnel on our shows very seriously, and Buckingham immediately launched an investigation [when the incident was reported to them in July 2021. The investigation concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support these allegations.”
Meanwhile, Shangela has denied the allegations made by the former HBO staff member. He called the accusations “entirely meritless” in a statement to Page Six, noting that they “perpetuate damaging stereotypes that are harmful not only to me but also to my entire community.” He continued:
“I can’t begin to explain how hurt and disgusted I am by these totally untrue allegations. 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.”
At this time, Daniel is seeking an unknown amount in damages for sexual assault, sexual harassment, gender violence, false imprisonment, and negligence from Shangela and Buckingham Television. Reactions? Let us know in the comments below.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence and would like to learn more about resources, consider checking out https://www.rainn.org/resources.
[Image via MEGA/WENN]