Season 31 alum Darius Jeremy “D.J.” Pierce, who competed on “Dancing With the Stars” as Shangela, has issued a statement after being accused of rape in a lawsuit filed in California.
In court documents obtained by Heavy, Daniel McGarrigle claims that Pierce, 41, raped him in a hotel room in Los Angeles. McGarrigle previously worked as a production assistant on the docuseries “We’re Here,” which premiered in 2020. Pierce has been a part of the show for its first two seasons, appearing as his drag queen persona, Shangela Laquifa Wadley.
“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. 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,” Pierce said in a statement that was shared with Heavy.
“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,” the statement continued.
Pierce appeared in seasons 2 and 3 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” as Shangela. In 2022, Pierce joined the cast of DWTS, where he competed in drag, finishing in fourth place with ballroom pro Gleb Savchenko.
Here’s what you need to know:
Daniel McGarrigle Says He Didn’t Immediately Report the Incident Because He Was Afraid He’d Lose His Job
The lawsuit, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on May 3, 2023, details an alleged incident between McGarrigle and Pierce that McGarrigle says happened following a rap party in February 2020. The lawsuit names Pierce, Buckingham Television Inc., and Does 1 to 20 as defendants.
In the court documents, McGarrigle states that he had been drinking when Pierce asked him to “help him pack for an early flight the next day.” McGarrigle says that he went to Pierce’s hotel room where he ended up vomiting. He claims that Pierce offered to let him stay the night and he agreed. However, McGarrigle woke up at one point and says that his pants were down and Pierce was attempting to have anal sex with him.
The court documents state that McGarrigle said “No” but was “extremely weak” and couldn’t get himself away. McGarrigle claims that Pierce proceeded to rape him and said that Pierce was “aggressive physically and verbally.”
McGarrigle says that Pierce continued to sexually harass him on a “daily basis” until he resigned from his position in July 2021.
Buckingham Television & HBO Also Released a Statement Following the Lawsuit Filing
In addition to Pierce releasing a statement, Buckingham Television and HBO also released a statement following the accusations put forward in the new lawsuit.
“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 sent to Heavy 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,” the statement concludes.