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Former U. Michigan Doctor Accused of Child Pornography and Sex With 'Vulnerable' Teen Patient


Former U. Michigan Doctor Accused of Child Pornography and Sex With 'Vulnerable' Teen Patient
Former U. Michigan Doctor Accused of Child Pornography and Sex With 'Vulnerable' Teen Patient

Another physician once employed by a Michigan-based university is facing sex crimes charges, PEOPLE confirms.

Mark Hoeltzel, a former pediatric rheumatology specialist at the University of Michigan, lost his job more than two months ago after the school learned he was being investigating for having a sexual relationship with a female patient.

Hoeltzel was then arrested on Monday for allegedly possessing hundreds of images of child pornography, according to a criminal complaint obtained by PEOPLE. News of the allegations comes in the aftermath of the sex abuse scandal of Larry Nassar, the former Michigan State University and Team USA gymnastics doctor.

The 46-year-old doctor — who is married with children — is still in police custody, but has a hearing is set for Wednesday, during which a judge will decide to release him on bond or hold him until his case is resolved.

Hoeltzel has not entered pleas yet.

The criminal complaint alleges that Hoeltzel was the subject of a federal investigation that uncovered evidence he was having sex with a “vulnerable,” mentally unstable, 18-year-old female patient in his clinic.

Investigators allege Hoeltzel provided the teen with powerful pain medications while treating her for rheumatoid arthritis. The sexual relationship allegedly lasted for two years, according to the complaint.

The doctor is further accused of talking to the patient about the other teenage girls under his care — at times, allegedly making references to the patients’ “hot” bodies.

The complaint states detectives with search warrants found electronic devices in Hoeltzel’s Ann Arbor home. Forensic analysis allegedly revealed nude photographs of underage girls, it states in the complaint.

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Detectives allege in the complaint that the patient was 18 when she had her first appointment at Hoeltzel’s clinic. She alleges he “grabbed her from behind” and forced his genitals on her.

During many of her appointments, Hoeltzel rendered no medical treatment, and only had sex with her, the complaint alleges. He also gave her pain medication “that were beyond and outside of recommendations” for her diagnoses, investigators allege.

PEOPLE was unable to reach his attorney for comment, but the Detroit Free Press spoke with lawyer Raymond Cassar, who told the paper the sexual relationship was consensual and legal because the patient was 18.

“I think there’s going to be much more uncovered about this young lady that will balance this out a little bit,” Cassar said. “It sounds to me like it was a consensual relationship and she was of age. She was 18 years old.”

Cassar dismissed comparisons to Nassar’s abuse.

“This is totally different from the Nassar case,” Cassar told the Free Press.

Last month, Nassar, was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing women and girls for decades.

More than 150 victims have accused Nassar of assault, including gymnasts Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney and Gabby Douglas.

Nassar pleaded guilty in November to several counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

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In a statement, Marschall Runge, the CEO of Michigan Medicine and the University of Michigan’s executive vice president of Medical Affairs, called the allegations against Hoeltzel “very disturbing and serious,” adding that “we have reached out to our patients to inform them” of the doctor’s arrest.

“We took immediate steps to protect our patients by removing him from patient care duties the day we were alerted. We did not allow him to return to work and he is no longer a Michigan Medicine employee,” Runge said in the statement. “We also immediately reported him to law enforcement and have been fully cooperating with the investigations that have resulted in these charges. We continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement.”

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