RuPaul’s Drag Race and We’re Here star Shangela has denied allegations in a civil suit filed by a former production assistant on the latter series claiming that the drag star (born Darius Jeremy “DJ” Pierce) drugged and raped him after a 2020 wrap party.
“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,” Pierce said in a statement to Billboard on Friday (May 5).
The statement came in reaction to a civil suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday in which Daniel McGarrigle, a We’re Here production assistant, claimed that Pierce sexually assaulted him in February 2020 after a wrap party for the fifth episode of the HBO reality series featuring several Drag Race contestants, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“An external investigation into this embittered individual’s claims previously concluded that they were completely without merit,” Pierce continued in the statement. The performer added of the new filing, “No one should be fooled: It has no basis in fact or in law, and it will not succeed.”
Pierce added, “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.”
According to THR, McGarrigle alleges in the suit that during party at a Ruston, La., restaurant/bar, Pierce was “heavily flirtatious” with him and bought him several drinks before allegedly suggesting that McGarrigle accompany him to his hotel to help get ready for an early flight. The suit then claims that McGarrigle vomited in the toilet after arriving in Pierce’s room, at which point the performer reportedly offered to get him water and let him lie down until he felt better.
The production assistant claims in the lawsuit he woke up later that evening to a cold liquid that “burned his eyes and nose” being poured on him that was described as a kind of “poppers” (aka amyl nitrite) before Pierce allegedly pulled down his pants and “overpowered” him.
In a separate statement shared with Billboard from producers Buckingham Television and HBO, the representatives for the series said, “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.”
The suit claims that the alleged rape was an act of gender violence, and that McGarrigle suffered damages as a result, including “past and future medical expenses, past and future lost earnings and earning capacity, pain, suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish and embarrassment.” The legal action is seeking unspecified damages from Pierce and Buckingham.