Drag Race star Shangela denies accusations of rape by We’re Here crew member: ‘Totally untrue’

Shangela from the neck up, smiling at the camera, wearing a brown wig and pink make-up.

RuPaul’s Drag Race fan favourite Shangela has denied allegations of sexual assault and harassment after being accused by a former staff member of HBO’s We’re Here, saying they are “completely without merit”.

Daniel McGarrigle, a former production assistant on the TV series, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday 3 May at Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming that Shangela, 41, whose real name is Darius Jeremy (DJ) Pierce, raped him in a hotel room in February 2020.

McGarrigle’s lawsuit alleges that the incident occurred at a crew wrap party in Louisiana following the final day of production on the first season of We’re Here, the reality series which stars Shangela and fellow Drag Race alumni Bob The Drag Queen and Eureka O’Hara as they travel to small towns across the US and host one-night only drag shows.

The case describes McGarrigle allegedly falling asleep in Shangela’s hotel room while intoxicated and fully dressed, before being awoken by the A Star Is Born actor supposedly pouring liquid poppers on his face.

McGarrigle accused Shangela of then pulling down his trousers and attempting to penetrate him, despite the former crew member screaming “no” and trying to fight the drag queen off.

According to The Los Angeles Times, McGarrigle claims that he was overpowered, as Shangela allegedly told him: “I know you want it, and you’re going to take it.”

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In a statement shared with the LA publication, Shangela vehemently denied the “offensive” and “damaging” accusations.

Shangela, whose real name is Darius Jeremy (DJ) Pierce, at SiriusXM.
Shangela’s real name is Darius Jeremy (DJ) Pierce. (Getty/ Santiago Felipe)

“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,” the Dancing With The Stars finalist 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.”

In addition to the sexual assault allegation, McGarrigle also claimed that Shangela continually sexually harassed him by making suggestive comments and touching him, before the production assistant eventually resigned in July 2021.

Eureka, Shangela and Bob the Drag Queen
Eureka, Shangela and Bob the Drag Queen in We’re Here. (Sky)

Overall, the suit alleges sexual assualt, sexual harassment, gender violence, and false imprisonment, according to the LA Times.

We’re Here’s production company Buckingham Television, which is also named in the lawsuit, has also provided a statement confirming that an internal investigation found “insufficient evidence” to support McGarrigle’s claims.

“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,” the statement reads.

“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.”

We’re Here, which aired its third season towards the end of 2022, has been awarded two Emmy Awards and a GLAAD Award.

While Shangela is best known for her run on season two and three of RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3, the drag performer has also starred in films and TV series including Hurricane Biance, 2 Broke Girls, and The X-Files.