EXCLUSIVE: Richard Simmons 'Pleased His Side Heard' After Filing Lawsuit Over Sex Change Story
By Alex Ungerman
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Richard Simmons is headed to court.
The reclusive former fitness guru is suing the National Enquirer and Radar for four counts of libel and one count of invasion of privacy, according to court documents obtained by ET.
"Richard and I are very pleased that his side of the story could be voiced today through the filing of the lawsuit against National Enquirer, Inc., Radaronline, LLC American Media, Inc. We truly feel the complaint speaks for itself," Simmons' manager, Michael Catalano, tells ET exclusively. "In typical fashion the Enquirer and Radar are denying all responsibility for their reckless and damaging reporting. We look forward to getting the facts of the case before the public."
The filing, which seeks an unspecified amount of damages, alleges that the tabloid outlets falsely asserted that the 68-year-old was undergoing sex change surgery.
“This case is about a particularly egregious and hurtful campaign of defamation and privacy invasions, falsely asserting that Mr. Simmons is transitioning from a male to a female, including 'shocking sex surgery,' breast implants, hormone treatments, and consultations on medical castration," the lawsuit claims. "The National Enquirer and Radar Online have cheaply and crassly commercialized and sensationalized an issue that ought to be treated with respect and sensitivity."
"Even the most ardent supporter of sexual autonomy and LGBTQ rights is entitled to be portrayed in a manner that is truthful," the suit goes on. "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."
The filing also alleges that for years, Simmons has been "blackmailed, extorted and stalked" by a his former assistant, Mauro Oliveira.
"Starting from around May 2015, Mauro Oliveira, an individual who has blackmailed, extorted, and stalked Mr. Simmons for several years with the intention of destroying the career and reputation of Mr. Simmons, contacted several press outlets, including the National Enquirer and Radar, and offered information on Mr. Simmons's disappearance in exchange for a fee," the lawsuit alleges.
Oliveira has denied the claims in the lawsuit, telling People, “The allegations are false, and the real story about Richard Simmons will come out eventually. Any reference to monetary compensation is the money Richard Simmons owes Mr. Oliveira for his work done for him, and also for the help he promised me when I stopped working for him, and also for the health problems Richard Simmons caused Mr. Oliveira.”
Oliveira talked to ET about his former friend in March, claiming that Simmons had "stopped talking to many loving, longtime friends" and had been "terribly advised" by the people around him.
"He used to have friends over all the time, dinner parties all the time," Oliveira claimed at the time. "That's why it bogs my mind that he decided to 'completely abandon the world.'"
"Mr. Simmons has not undergone or even contemplated sex-change surgery, or any surgery whatsoever to change from a man to a woman; he has not used and does not use the name 'Fiona'; he is not living as a woman (or person) named Fiona; he does not have flowing brunette locks and womanly curves," the document continues. "Mr. Simmons has not 'opted for' breast implant surgery, hormone therapy, or any other invasive changes to create the transformation the Enquirer reported; nor does he secretly adventure out of his Hollywood Hills home dressed as a woman."
Following the filing of the lawsuit, Radar and The National Enquirer put out a statement defending their coverage. Read the full statement here.
"We stand by our reporting about Mr. Simmons, and intend to vigorously defend this lawsuit and win public vindication of our reports," the statement reads in part. "We will also aggressively pursue our ongoing investigation into his life and who is really behind this bizarre and merit-less lawsuit."
Simmons' withdrawal from public life has stirred up a great deal of speculation and allegations, including that he had been kidnapped.
In a conversation with ET in March of 2016, Simmons denied such allegations, saying, "I am not kidnapped. I am just in my house right now. ...The people that surround me are wonderful people who take great care of me."
Last month, Simmons was hospitalized for "severe indigestion," taking to Facebook to thank his fans after he was released.