Richard Simmons‘s lawsuit against the National Enquirer and its publisher revealed the shocking allegation that he has been “blackmailed, extorted and stalked” by his former associate Mauro Oliveira over the last two years.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, repeats the assertion from Simmons’ longtime rep Michael Catalano that the star is not transitioning to a woman, despite articles published in the National Enquirer and Radar Online claiming otherwise.
“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 states.
A spokesperson at American Media, Inc., the publisher of both news sources, told PEOPLE prior to seeing the suit that they maintained confidence in their reporting.
“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.”
The lawsuit goes on to say that the National Enquirer ran stories stating that Simmons was transitioning to a woman named Fiona, knowing that if he were to deny them, it “will make Mr. Simmons appear to maintain that there is something wrong with transitioning from one gender to another.”
Additionally, they add that Simmons, “fully supports individual autonomy and the essential human dignity of every person to make his or her own personal choices regarding sexual identity” and “has been an avid supporter of the LGBTQ community for his entire life.”
Simmons’ history of wearing women’s clothing
The lawsuit does acknowledge that Simmons often wore women’s dresses, and alleges that the National Enquirer took advantage of this to misrepresent his gender identity.
“The National Enquirer, based on the false information provided by Mr. Oliveira, published an article … [that] included an old image of Mr. Simmons from 2013 (before his disappearance), dressed in a costume as a female, which he has done openly over the years consistent with his well-known and longstanding burlesque-style entertainment persona.”
Simmons and Mauro Oliveira
According to Simmons, the National Enquirer‘s stories originated with Mauro Oliveira, his former associate who was allegedly blackmailing the fitness guru. Oliveira — who was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit — reportedly sold several stories to the two publications to explain Simmons’ absence from the public eye since February 2014, first that he was ” ‘frail, weak and spiritually broken,’ ” then that was “being held hostage by his housekeeper who was controlling Mr. Simmons, taking advantage of his weak mental state and engaging in witchcraft.” The last claim from Oliveira was that Simmons was transitioning.
The lawsuit claims that “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.”
Oliveira told PEOPLE on Monday that, “The allegations are false, and the real story about Richard Simmons will come out eventually. 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.”
Oliveira allegedly offered to rescind his comments — for a price
According to the lawsuit, Oliveira told Simmons in an email on June 10, 2016, that he had not intended to imply that Simmons was transitioning, and offered to “‘discredit the story and defend Richard Simmons’ ” — but only for money.
“Mr. Oliveira stated that he was ‘misrepresented and betrayed and that such allegations were pure fabrications by others not [himself] … [He] signed up with this agency, to publish pictures and videos of Richard Simmons, with the sole intent to show how fit and how beautiful he looks like dressed up as a female.’ ”
“He then implicitly demanded money from Mr. Simmons within 10 days and stated that if Mr. Simmons paid him, he would be prepared to ‘go on record to discredit the story.’ ”
American Media, Inc. requested Oliveira to cease and desist
The lawsuit states that AMI was aware that Oliveira was selling false stories and asked him to stop contacting the publishing company, yet they continued to write stories based on his claims.
On August 3, 2016, AMI’s General Counsel emailed Mr. Oliveira and stated “It has come to our attention that you continue to try to sell articles and photographs about Richard Simmons to AMI despite apparently disavowing information you previously provided AMI. Please cease and desist contacting anyone at the company. AMI is not interested in acquiring any information from you.”
Seven months later, on March 22, Radar allegedly posted a story claiming that Simmons was “the latest Hollywood star to secretly undergo a sex change.”
Catalano told PEOPLE in April that the unfounded stories about Simmons over the last three years have been difficult to handle.
“For my observation on it, nothing has been as damaging to him personally as these sort of accusations, speculation — these things that are clearly not true.”