Richard Simmons is suing tabloid magazine The National Enquirer for publishing stories saying the exercise guru is undergoing sex change therapy.


On Monday, Simmons, 68, filed a libel lawsuit against the news source and its publishers. He also claims that his former assistant, Mauro Oliveira “blackmailed, extorted, and stalked” him. Simmons has been keeping out of public sight since Feb, 2014, and he cited Oliveira’s actions as one reason for his absence.

Simmons’ attorney’s say that Oliveira sold false information to the Enquirer and they published the information, despite knowing that it was untrue. The suit also states that Oliveira sent Simmons threatening emails saying he would “destroy his reputation” unless he paid him.

Additionally, Oliveira told the tabloid that Simmons was hiding out because he was transforming from man to woman. At other points, the former assistant claimed that Simmons was being held hostage by his housekeeper, and lastly that Simmons was “frail, weak, and spiritually broken.”

“While we have not seen Mr. Simmons’ complaint, we stand by our reporting…and intend to vigorously defend this lawsuit and win public vindication,” was the National Enquirer‘s response. “We will also aggressively pursue our ongoing investigation into his life and who is really behind this bizarre and meritless lawsuit.”

Along with their articles, the tabloid included photos of Simmons wearing a dress and makeup, giving the impression that he was transitioning. “The allegations are false, and the real story about Richard Simmons will come out eventually,” Oliveira told People. “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.”

In addition to the lawsuit, Simmons’ longtime rep Michael Catalano confirmed that Simmons is not transitioning.

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