Longtime fitness guru Richard Simmons has been the focus of intense media scrutiny since he stepped out of the spotlight a few years ago, and now he appears to be fighting back.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Simmons filed a lawsuit Monday against American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer and Radar Online, alleging libel and invasion of privacy.
“According to documents acquired by The Times, Simmons alleges that former assistant Mauro Oliveira had ‘blackmailed, extorted and stalked’ him and that the outlets ‘acted in reckless disregard for the fact that information provided by Mr. Oliveira was false and that he was not a credible or reliable source,'” The Times reports.
The report adds: “The lawsuit also references Simmons’ retreat from the public eye, beginning in early 2014, before detailing Oliveira’s alleged attempts at ‘destroying the career and reputation of Mr. Simmons’ with the sale of false information to outlets such as the National Enquirer.”
The suit accuses Oliveira of contacting the National Enquirer “on at least three separate occasions, offering three separate stories as to why Mr. Simmons has been absent from the media in the past few years.”
According to The Times’ report, the lawsuit also says: “Mr. Oliveira first contacted the National Enquirer on or around May 2015, stating that Mr. Simmons’s absence was due to him being ‘frail, weak and spiritually broken,’ and ‘in desperate need of help.'”
People magazine quotes a spokesperson for American Media saying: “While we have not seen Mr. Simmons’ complaint, we stand by our reporting about him, all of which was based on solid sourcing and material evidence. Should he choose to proceed with his lawsuit, we will defend it vigorously, and we look forward to the public vindication of our reports.”