Richard Simmons filed a lawsuit Monday against the National Enquirer, claiming the tabloid printed false stories about him provided by former assistant Mauro Oliveira.
Oliveira “blackmailed, extorted and stalked” the fitness personality, according to People, then fed the Enquirer stories about Simmons’ disappearance from the public eye over the past few years, including that he was being held hostage by his housekeeper and that he was transitioning.
The suit claims the Enquirer ran the allegations despite knowing “that the information provided by Mr. Oliveira was false and that he was not a credible or reliable source.”
Lawyers for the 68-year-old collected articles published in the National Enquirer that allege he was undergoing gender confirmation surgery.
Simmons has avoided public appearances since February 2014, and claims in the suit that Oliveira’s extortion attempts made him retreat even further from the public eye.