Darren Merager, the trans woman accused of indecent exposure during an incident at the West Hollywood Aquatics and Recreation Center in 2018, and most famously, at Wi Spa in Koreatown on June 23, 2021, is out on bond and recently had a court hearing on Wednesday, February 8th.
Merager is facing five felony counts of indecent exposure related to the incident at Wi Spa which received national attention, sparked rioting outside the spa between pro and anti-trans activist, as well inspired heated debates on trans rights. Merager called the accusations evidence of “systemic transphobia” and claims the Wi Spa accusers are lying to police.
According to reports, a judge in Los Angeles County Superior Court had issued a second
arrest warrant for Darren Agee Merager on September 8, 2021, after Merager failed to appear at a hearing related to six felony charges of indecent exposure over a previous indecent exposure case at the West Hollywood Aquatics and Recreation Center swimming pool.
Merager has had other run-ins with the law. She was convicted in 2003 for looking through the window of an elderly woman’s home in Arcadia, California while allegedly masturbating. Merager pleaded guilty, but later said, that “I may have been somewhere I didn’t belong, but I wasn’t doing it for gratification, and I wasn’t showing myself off.”
Meager was also implicated in several sex-crime investigations that did not result in charges, such as an incident in June 2018, where while on parole for a burglary conviction, Merager was identified as a suspect in an alleged indecent-exposure incident at a gas station in Burbank (Merager was identified by a vehicle license plate). No victims came forward so the case was closed.
Then, on Dec. 26, 2018, police were called to the Palm Springs Swim Center on an allegation that Merager exposed herself to members of a high-school girls’ water-polo team in the women’s changing room. Merager said she was only showering and did not masturbate or touch herself inappropriately according to a police report. She was not arrested or charged.
On January, 2013, Los Angeles County prosecutors also charged Merager, then 43, for allegedly breaking into the home of DoubleLine Capital founder Jeffrey Gundlach, between September 12 and 13, and stealing items worth at least $3.2 million. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office said that Merager’s 68-year-old mother, Brenda Joyce Merager, and two brothers, 29-year-old Wanis George Wahba and his 26-year-old brother, Ely George Wahba were charged with allegedly concealing and trying to sell stolen high-end art worth $10 million from Gundlach’s Santa Monica home. Under a plea bargain agreement, Merager was sentenced to four years in prison for stealing artwork, jewelry, wine and a Porsche from Gundlach’s home. Charges were dropped against his mother.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Inmate Information Center show Merager was arrested on December 13, 2022. She was released on Bond on January 29, 2023. The Bond, which was originally at $350,000.00, according to records dated January 25, 2023, has been updated to reflect a bond grand total of $0.00. It is not yet clear if this is an error on the report, or if Merager was released without bail. Conditions of release are unknown.
The report also has Merager listed as male even though according to records, her California driver’s license reads “Female,” a change that was made in 2019, once California’s self-ID law went into effect.
Merager was in court for the hearing at the Los Angeles County Superior Court – West District – Airport location last week. Witnesses testified that Merager roamed the facility on June 23, 2021 with penis exposed. Some said it was erect, while another witness said it soft. The women said they found his presence offensive.
L.A. Magazine reports that a woman named Claudia who was at the spa with her two daughters, testified seeing Merager sitting on the edge of a Jacuzzi bath with feet dangling in the water, legs opened 45 degrees. She said she was concerned for her younger daughter who was present at the time (the older daughter was somewhere else in the spa). Claudia also admitted that Merager did not solicit their attention or take any action that day.
Presiding Judge Lana S. Kim said that Merager’s presence in the women’s section met the standard for the case to go forward by unlawfully causing offense to others in the indoor public space. The judge noted that the spa’s policy to not discriminate based on gender identity “was not an affirmative defense.”
Reports note the absence of the trans activists that demonstrated outside of Wi Spa in 2021, as well as several witnesses who said they saw Merager with an erect penis. Among the missing includes a woman named Christina (aka Cubana Angel on Instagram) who released a video where she confronted Wi Spa staff member to complain about a man in the women’s only spa. There was also a woman named Yvette who filed a police report stating that her 8-year-old daughter saw Merager’s male genitals.
Merager tells LA Magazine that she is completely innocent in the case and that California’s laws should protect transgender identity for public facility use.
A full arraignment for the case is scheduled for later this month on February 21, 2023.