Fitness star Richard Simmons filed a lawsuit Monday against the National Enquirer, Radar Online and American Media, Inc., claiming the publications printed a series of “cruel and malicious” articles about him provided by former assistant Mauro Oliveira, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
The articles, published between June 2016 and March of this year, suggested that Simmons was transitioning from a male to a female, including reports of “shocking sex surgery” which included breast implants, hormone treatments and consultations on medical castration.
Oliveira “blackmailed, extorted and stalked” the Simmons, according to a report by People Magazine.
His former assistant then told the Enquirer that the 68-year-old was being held hostage by his housekeeper and that he was transitioning.
The fitness guru says the publication knew its source wasn’t credible and that he has “a legal right to insist that he not be portrayed as someone he is not.”
In the suit, Simmons claims that Oliveira’s extortion attempts made him retreat even further from the public eye.
“National Enquirer and Radar Online have miscalculated,” reads the complaint.“The National Enquirer and Radar Online have cheaply and crassly commercialized and sensationalized an issue that ought to be treated with respect and sensitivity. Principles of freedom of speech and press may protect their prerogative to mock and degrade the LGBTQ community. But freedom to speak is not freedom to defame. Mr. Simmons, like every person in this nation, has a legal right to insist that he not be portrayed as someone he is not. Even the most ardent supporter of sexual autonomy and LGBTQ rights is entitled to be portrayed in a manner that is truthful.”
“The law of defamation and false light invasion of privacy exist to vindicate this elemental right. The law protects the right of every person to be treated with decency and dignity, free from the deliberate propagation of falsehoods that have no motivation other than exploitation. It is to vindicate that right, and the rights of all persons to be portrayed with dignity and honesty with regard to their sexual identity, that Mr. Simmons files this lawsuit.”