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Richard Simmons Is Fighting Back Against "Cruel and Malicious" Rumors

"Freedom to speak is not freedom to defame," says a lawsuit filed by the fitness guru.

Richard Simmons is not tolerating any of the rumors surrounding him in the wake of his decision to step out of the spotlight. The fitness guru has filed a lawsuit against two publications over "cruel and malicious" stories that claim he stepped away from fame to "transition from male to female."

According to NBC News, Richard is suing The National Enquirer and Radar Online (and parent company American Media Inc.) for the publication of these stories for several counts of libel and invasion of privacy for publishing. "The cruel and malicious publication of these stories is particularly offensive because Mr. Simmons fully supports individual autonomy and the essential human dignity of every person to make his or her own personal choices regarding sexual identity," the complaint reads. "The National Enquirer and Radar Online have cheaply and crassly commercialized and sensationalized an issue that ought to be treated with respect and sensitivity. Principles of freedom of speech and press may protect their prerogative to mock and degrade the LGBTQ community. But freedom to speak is not freedom to defame."

The publications issued a statement to NBC News defending their reporting. However, Richard's rep, Michael Catalano, is fighting back in his own statement. "People have a right to privacy, and just because someone is a public figure doesn't mean their right to privacy is gone," his statement to NBC News reads. "Richard is very glad get his side of the story out. This has been going on for a long time."

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