May 9 (UPI) — Richard Simmons is taking the company behind The National Enquirer and Radar Online to court over a series of stories that claim the fitness guru is undergoing a sex-change.
“This case is about a particularly egregious and hurtful campaign of defamations 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 filed in Los Angeles Superior Court against American Media Inc. on Monday states.
Simmons’ lawsuit also calls the stories “offensive” as the 68-year-old “fully supports individual autonomy and the essential human dignity of every person to make his or her own personal choices regarding sexual identity.”
“The National Enquirer and Radar Online have cheaply and crassly commercialized and sensationalized an issue that ought to be treated with respect and sensitivity,” it continues.
In a statement to NBC News, American Media Inc. stated that they will defend themselves “vigorously” noting, “We stand by our reporting about him, all of which was based on solid sourcing and material evidence.”
In response, Simmons’ manager Michael Catalano added, “People have a right to privacy, and just because someone is a public figure doesn’t mean their right to privacy is gone.”
The lawsuit also labels Simmons’ former associate Mauro Oliveira has having pitched the ideas for the stories to The National Enquirer while he blackmailed his former employer. “While pitching around these ideas, Mr. Oliveira was simultaneously blackmailing Mr. Simmons, sending him emails and threatening to destroy his reputation with damaging press coverage unless Mr. Simmons paid Mr. Oliveira to stop,” the complaint says.
According to Simmons, Oliveira had previously sold several stories to the publication about the reason behind his absence from the public eye since February 2014.
Simmons in April shared with his fans on Facebook an update on his health and well-being assuring fans that he was healthy despite his recent medical issues and his absence from the public eye. That same month, he was hospitalized for three days to treat “severe indigestion” before returning home.