Richard Simmons has filed a libel lawsuit against the National Enquirer, Radar Online and their publisher over stories claiming the fitness guru was undergoing a sex change, with the lawsuit alleging Simmons was being blackmailed by a former associate who peddled bogus information.
The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit contends the series of articles falsely suggested he was transitioning from a male to a female, and that the stories were based on phony information provided by a former assistant.
The Enquirer responded on its website that its reporting was based on “credible sources.” The publication vowed to “vigorously” defend the against the lawsuit.
“We will also aggressively pursue our ongoing investigation into his life and who is really behind this bizarre and meritless lawsuit,” according to the publication.
The lawsuit filed Monday alleges that Simmons was being “blackmailed, extorted and stalked” for several years by the ex-assistant, who allegedly peddled false and libelous information to the Enquirer and Radar Online, which are both owned by American Media.
The assistant — who is not named as a defendant — allegedly told the Enquirer that Simmons stopped appearing in public in 2014 because he was undergoing a sex change, according to the suit.
The lawsuit — which seeks unspecified damages — alleges that the Enquirer and Radar “knew and acted in reckless disregard” by relying on a tipster “who was not a credible or reliable source.”
Simmons, 68, has not been seen publicly since February 2014. A podcast, “Missing Richard Simmons,” has been among the most popular series of its kind this year.
The famed fitness guru was hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center last month for what was reported to be a gastrointestinal problem. Simmons posted a message on his Facebook page after he returned home, thanking the hospital staff and the police who escorted him home.
In his message, he wrote that he was not “missing,” but was just “a little under the weather.”
–City News Service
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