Richard Simmons Sues National Enquirer Over Sex Change Claims
Fitness guru Richard Simmons seems to be furious over news claiming that he had sex change surgery and is now taking legal action. According to a report on Monday, the sex change rumors were spread by the National Enquirer and Radar Online and said that that Simmons made a “transition from male to female.”
According to the lawsuit against American Media Inc., owner of the said publications, the online sites have committed libel and invasion of privacy for issuing stories claiming Simmons had “shocking sex surgery, breast implants, hormone treatments, and consultations on medical castration.”
“The cruel and malicious publication of these stories is particularly offensive because Mr. Simmons fully supports individual autonomy and the essential human dignity of every person to make his or her own personal choices regarding sexual identity,” said the complaint filed by Simmons. “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.”
On the other hand, the owner of the National Enquirer and Radar Online said it will stand by their stories, which were 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,” American Media Inc. spokesman told NBC News.
Michael Catalano, Simmons’ manager defended his client saying that “People have the right to privacy, and just because someone is a public figure doesn’t mean their right to privacy is gone.”
According to the suit, Simmons said his ex-assistant Mauro Oliveira has been blackmailing, extorting, stalking, and creating lies against him. The suit claimed that Oliveira was the one pushing lies behind Simmons’ break from the public eye in exchange for money.
The suit detailed instances how Oliveira approached the publications and spread stories like Simmons was already “frail, weak, and spiritually broken;” he was “being held hostage by his housekeeper;” and now the latest was that he has undergone gender reassignment.
While Oliveira was allegedly spreading lies, the suit said he was blackmailing Simmons at the same time, threatening to ruin Simmons’ reputation unless the fitness expert “paid him to stop.”
Simmons has been out of the limelight for several months, which caused stir to his fans on social media. Last month, Simmons already explained to the public of his absence saying he’s not “missing” and that he just got back home from the hospital due to his injured knees.