Richard Simmons on Monday filed a massive lawsuit against the National Enquirer, Radar Online and their publisher American Media Inc. on four counts of libel and one count of invasion of privacy.
The fitness guru alleges that a former associate, Mauro Oliveira — who was not named as a defendant in the suit — had “blackmailed, extorted and stalked” Simmons and had sold false and libelous information about him to the National Enquirer and Radar Online, also owned by American Media.
According to the suit, which was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Oliveira allegedly contacted the Enquirer on several occasions with different stories regarding Simmons’ absence from the limelight in recent years. The first time, Oliveira reportedly told the Enquirer that Simmons was “frail, weak and spiritually broken.” He reportedly contacted them again and claimed Simmons was “being held hostage by his housekeeper,” and another time said he was transitioning to become a woman.
The suit also contends that the Enquirer and Radar “knew and acted in reckless disregard for the fact that the information provided by Mr. Oliveira was false and that he was not a credible or reliable source.”
Oliveira told People that the allegations against him are false.
Simmons is asking for an apology, a retraction, a permanent injunction, and real and punitive damages. He is also seeking a trial by jury.
A spokesman for American Media told People magazine, “While we have not seen Mr. Simmons’ complaint, we stand by our reporting about him, all of which was based on solid sourcing and material evidence. Should he choose to proceed with his lawsuit, we will defend it vigorously, and we look forward to the public vindication of our reports.”
Simmons — who had been making 250 personal appearances a year until dropping out of public sight in 2014, due to what he said was a knee injury — responded to the persistent rumors in March 2016, saying in a phone call to NBC’s “Today,” “No one is holding me in my house as a hostage.”