Richard Simmons Sues Tabloids Over Sex Change Articles
Beloved fitness guru and TV personality Richard Simmons has launched a libel lawsuit against bosses at American Media Inc. over stories suggesting he is transitioning into a woman.
The veteran star, who has been out of the public eye since 2014, lodged the legal papers in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday over articles in the National Enquirer and Star magazine, which suggested he underwent “shocking sex surgery,” including breast implants and hormone treatments.
“National Enquirer and Radar Online have miscalculated,” reads the complaint, which was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “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. Mr. Simmons, like every person in this nation, has a legal right to insist that he not be portrayed as someone he is not. Even the most ardent supporter of sexual autonomy and LGBTQ rights is entitled to be portrayed in a manner that is truthful.”
Simmons also slams a former employee for allegedly selling information to the publications.
“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’ disappearance in exchange for a fee,” the lawsuit continues.
The 68-year-old is bringing forward four counts of libel and an invasion of privacy charge. He is seeking an injunction to stop the editors from publishing any further articles about him and an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages. Simmons also wants an apology and a retraction.