Trans woman charged with indecent exposure at spa says she’s victim of harassment
A trans woman who has been charged with indecent exposure over an incident at Wi Spa in Los Angeles has said she is the victim of transphobic harassment.
Agee Merager, who is legally female, is reportedly facing multiple felony charges of indecent exposure after four cis women and a girl accused her of exposing her genitals at Wi Spa in June, according to the New York Post.
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) “discreetly” brought charges against Merager on Monday (30 August) following a lengthy investigation that kicked off when a Wi Spa customer’s confrontational video went viral on social media.
In the video, an unnamed woman could be heard shouting at a Wi Spa staff member, claiming she had seen a trans woman undressing in their facilities.
In the clip, which went viral with help from various right-wing commentators, the woman repeatedly misgendered the trans customer and suggested that cis women were “highly offended” by her presence at the spa.
In the weeks that followed, Wi Spa became the centre of America’s moral panic about trans lives. One highly publicised incident saw police firing rubber bullets at right-wing demonstrators and counter-protesters who clashed outside the spa in July.
For some time, the case was embroiled in controversy – many claimed the entire thing had been fabricated by anti-trans activists to ignite a debate about trans rights.
However, a police investigation led authorities to Merager. She now stands accused of showing signs of sexual arousal in the women’s changing facilities at Wi Spa – an accusation she denies.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department released an internal bulletin in 2018 describing Merager as a “registered sex offender”. She was previously arrested in December 2018 following an accusation of indecent exposure in a women’s locker room in West Hollywood Park.
She has pleaded not guilty to six charges of indecent exposure in that case, and her next court appearance is currently scheduled for 8 September.
Merager also has two earlier convictions for indecent exposure, one in 2002 and another in 2003. Five years later, she was convicted for failing to register as a sex offender.
She has also been convicted of a number of other crimes throughout her life, including sex offences and burglary.
This week, a warrant was issued for Merager’s arrest for five felony counts of indecent exposure in relation to the Wi Spa incident. It is understood that she has not yet turned herself in.
Wi Spa incident based on ‘garbage and lies’, trans woman says
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Speaking to the New York Post about the furore, Merager said: “Everything about the Wi Spa was a bunch of garbage and lies.”
Merager said she was in a jacuzzi in Wi Spa in June when she was targeted by the customer heard shouting at staff in the viral video.
“She never saw me naked. I was underwater with water all the way up to my chest,” she said, adding that at no point was she nude around a child.
Merager said her case is part of a “pattern of abuse” from a society that hates trans people.
“You allow [trans women] to go in there [women’s spaces] and then people simply claim indecent exposure and you’re arrested,” she said.
She added that she might yet file a discrimination lawsuit over the harm caused to her by allegations of indecent exposure.