Fitness guru Richard Simmons files defamation lawsuit over reports he was transitioning
Fitness guru Richard Simmons has sued the National Enquirer over false reports that he had transitioned from male to female.
The lawsuit, which does not specify damages, marks one of the few times Simmons has returned to the spotlight after retreating from the public eye three years ago. His absence prompted the hit podcast Missing Richard Simmons, which fed off rumors following his so-called “disappearance,” including those about him transitioning.
The ’80s fitness video star is suing the National Enquirer‘s parent company, American Media Inc. for libel and invasion of privacy because of several stories, including one titled “Richard Simmons: “He’s now a woman!” The reports and misconstrued images about breast implants, hormone treatments, and other physical changes are offensive not only because they are completely made up, but also because Simmons “has been an avid supporter of the LGBTQ community for his entire life,” according to the complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.
At one point the suit clearly states: “Simmons is not a woman; he has not undergone or contemplated sex-change surgery, or any surgery whatsoever to change from a man to a woman.”
The complaint goes on to accuse the National Enquirer and Radar Online (also owned by AMI)of trying to make money off of a sensitive issue.
Simmons also names his former masseuse, Mauro Oliveira, who came up a lot in the podcast, as the source of the Enquirer’s false story. Simmons includes details about alleged blackmail schemes. Oliveira denied the allegations Monday, according to People.
“The real story about Richard Simmons will come out eventually,” he told the magazine.
The image used in an Enquirer cover story from 2016 is actually from 2013 and features Simmons in costume, something he has consistently done over the years. The false story text included lines such as Simmons has “undergone shocking sex surgery to change from a man to a woman” and “slowly transformed into a female with breast implants, hormone treatments, and medical consultations on castration.”
This spurred other false stories on the topic that cited the Enquirer as their source.
Simmons claims he has asked for retractions and nothing has been done.
The publications named in the suit wrote Monday in a statement that, “This is a legitimate news story that demands coverage.” The publications go on to say, “We stand by our reporting about Mr. Simmons, and intend to vigorously defend this lawsuit and win public vindication of our reports.”