Richard Simmons sues National Enquirer for libel

Richard Simmons onstage at JDRF's Los Angeles Walk to Cure Diabetes at the Rose Bowl on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision for JDRF/AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Richard Simmons has filed a libel lawsuit against the National Enquirer and its parent company over stories that claim he is living as a transgender woman.

The lawsuit filed Monday is seeking unspecified damages as well as an apology and retraction for stories published in June 2016 and March 2017 in the Enquirer and its website, RadarOnline.

The lawsuit against American Media, Inc., states the stories rely on a man who has tried to blackmail the former fitness guru for years, and included a 2013 photo of Simmons dressed in drag.

It states Simmons often dressed as a woman as part of his public persona.

Simmons retreated from public life in 2014, sparking rampant speculation about his health and wellbeing.

The Enquirer wrote in a statement that it is standing by its reporting on Simmons.

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