Why has fitness guru Richard Simmons disappeared from the public eye? This is the question a new podcast, Missing Richard Simmons, is attempting to explore.
Once again, the former Sweatin' to the Oldies icon's reclusive behavior has been thrust into the spotlight, with accusations and insinuations that the 68-year-old Simmons is being help captive or having his actions controlled by his housekeeper.
The claims, made in episode three of the podcast last week, were leveled by Simmons' longtime friend, Mauro Oliveira, who alleges that Simmons is being held hostage by his housekeeper and friend, Teresa Reveles.
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The TV personality and fitness leader's rep, Tom Estey, is staunchly denying the allegations.
In a statement released to People, Estey said Oliveira's claims are a "complete load of crap," and that Simmons has decided to simply step back from his life as a celebrity to live a more private existence.
Dan Taberski, who was a close friend of Simmons and created the podcast, explained that he began the project two years after the health and fitness advocate supposedly began distancing himself from his circle of friends and stopped leaving his house.
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According to Estey, Reveles has not been keeping Simmons captive, but rather has been caring for his every need.
"Teresa is the housekeeper, she’s the caretaker, she is extraordinary, she is amazing, she takes impeccable care of Richard and she has for as long as I have been working with Richard," Estey said, flat-out denying the insinuations that she's been holding him "hostage."
"Richard made a choice. To live a more private life. If he decides to come back, he’ll come back," Estey added. "People claim that it happened overnight. It really didn’t. We were turning down stuff for years and just kind of quieting down, and when he decides that he wants to come back, that’s when he’ll come back."
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As to why Simmons doesn't end the controversy by speaking with the podcast, Estey says that he refuses to participate "because we didn’t feel the need to nor did we want to. All these things distract from his legacy and I will not allow that to happen because this man is a world treasure."
"This man is a saint," Estey noted. "So treat him like a saint and leave him alone."
When ET reached Estey for comment, he reiterated, "This is the same, recycled information from six months ago. What do people want us to say? We don’t want to lie and tell them that there is something wrong when there isn’t. There will be no further comment at this time.”
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Accusations that Simmons was being held against his will first surfaced in March 2016 when the Daily News ran a feature article on his disappearance from the public arena.
At the time, Simmons spoke exclusively with ET via phone interview where he denied the claims.
"I am not kidnapped," Simmons said. "No one should be worried about me. The people that surround me are wonderful people who take great care of me." Check out the video below to hear more.