Richard Simmons Sues National Enquirer Over Articles Claiming He Is Transgender and Has Begun Transitioning

Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Richard Simmons has filed a complaint against the National Enquirer, Radar Online and American Media, Inc. for libel and false light, a type of invasion of privacy. The lawsuit focuses on several articles published between June 2016 and March 2017 claiming the fitness guru is both transgender and has undergone a number of medical procedures as part of his transition to living as a woman. These rumors were sold to the publication by what Simmons claims is an unreliable source. “Principles of freedom of speech and press may protect their prerogative to mock and degrade the LGBTQ community,” Simmons’ attorney, Neville Johnson, says about the publications named in the suit. “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.”

The source in question should be familiar to fans of the Missing Richard Simmons podcast: Mauro Oliveira, Simmons’ erstwhile masseuse. According to the suit, the Slimmons creator has allegedly been the target of his former friend’s repeated attempts to extract money from him. “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 filing claims. “All of these assertions were untrue, and were merely attempts by Mr. Oliveira to gain a profit in exchange for providing a false narrative about Mr. Simmons’ leave of absence.” One of the articles in question, a National Enquirer June 2016 cover story, depicted the fitness star in drag with the headline, “Richard Simmons: He’s Now A Woman!” and allegedly used Oliveira as their only source. An American Media, Inc. spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter on Monday, “While we have not seen Mr. Simmons’ complaint, we stand by our reporting about him, all of which was based on solid sourcing, photos and videos. Should he choose to proceed with his lawsuit, we will defend it vigorously, and we look forward to the public vindication of our reports.”

Richard Simmons Sues National Enquirer Over Transition Story