Richard Simmons has accused his former assistant of blackmail in a bombshell lawsuit against the National Enquirer and their publishers.
The suit claims that Mauro Oliveira “blackmailed, extorted and stalked” the fitness guru for several years with the intention of destroying his “career and reputation.”
The 68-year-old – who has not made a public appearance in over three years – further alleges that Oliveira’s behavior was the reason he retreated from the spotlight.
"Since early 2014, Mr. Simmons has taken a leave of absence from the media spotlight in order to retreat from his 40-year career in television, fitness and other arenas of entertainment,” the court filing revealed.
“Starting from around May 2015, Mauro Oliveira, an individual who has blackmailed, extorted and stalked Mr. Simmons for several years with the intention of destroying the career and reputation of Mr. Simmons, contacted several press outlets, including the National Enquirer and Radar, and offered information on Mr. Simmons's disappearance in exchange for a fee.”
The lawsuit continued, listing numerous reasons Oliveira gave for the star’s mysterious disappearance from the public eye as false, including that he was “frail, weak and spiritually broken,” being held captive by his housekeeper and undergoing a sex change.
Simmons’ lawyers claim that the National Enquirer “knew and acted in reckless regard for the fact that the information provided by Mr. Oliveira was false ad that he was not a credible or reliable source.”
Speaking with PEOPLE, Oliveira denies the allegations explaining that the “real story about Richard Simmons will come out eventually.”
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