A pediatric rheumatologist who once worked at Children’s Mercy Hospital is facing new charges in Michigan after losing his license over sexual misconduct allegations.
Mark Franklin Hoeltzel, 46, was charged last month in a criminal complaint for receiving and possessing child pornography. He was arrested at Detroit Metro Airport last week after undergoing treatment for addiction at a clinic in Philadelphia.
The charges were filed after Michigan authorities suspended Hoeltzel’s medical license in December. An investigation revealed Hoeltzel had carried on a sexual relationship with a patient beginning when she was 18 years old and continuing for three years.
After learning of the investigation, federal authorities executed a search warrant at Hoeltzel’s Ann Arbor home, where they allegedly discovered child pornography on a flash drive they seized.
At a detention hearing last week in federal court in Detroit, a federal prosecutor made additional allegations that Hoeltzel had sent “romantic and flirtatious and inappropriate” texts and emails to three minor girls in Missouri last fall while posing as a teenage boy named Ryan Gardner, according to an audiotape of the hearing.
The prosecutor, Sara Woodward, asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Magistrate Judge Mona K. Majzoub to lock Hoeltzel up, but Majzoub agreed to release him on bond pending trial because Hoeltzel “obviously has a compulsion, but the evidence does not show that he’s not able to control that compulsion.” She also noted that Hoeltzel is no longer able to practice medicine and that he had taken part recently in an addiction treatment program.
Hoeltzel worked at Children’s Mercy Hospital from 2007 to 2013. On Jan. 30, the hospital sent a letter to families of children who were treated by Hoeltzel saying it was conducting a thorough review of Hoeltzel’s tenure there.
“We know this information is disturbing and a cause for concern,” the letter, signed by hospital executive medical director Charles C. Roberts, stated. “We have staff available to answer your questions seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Please call our Social Work Departments at (816) 302-2000. You may also contact us by email at email@example.com and/or visit childrensmercy.org/my questions for additional resources.”
Hoeltzel is married and has three young children. He graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 2001.
The University of Michigan, where Hoeltzel worked until recently, investigated Hoeltzel in 2006 for allegedly texting and emailing an 11-year-old girl for two years after meeting her at a juvenile arthritis camp. The university ordered him to undergo counseling but allowed him to keep his job. A university spokesman told the Detroit Free Press that it has now “engaged an experienced outside reviewer to investigate this entire matter.”
On Monday, Jake Jacobson, a spokesman for Children’s Mercy, said in an email that if the hospital’s review turned up anything, “we would refer that information to appropriate authorities as there is an ongoing investigation.”
“Our patients’ well-being is our highest priority, and these are serious allegations,” Jacobson said. “Therefore, we are conducting a thorough review of Dr. Hoeltzel’s time at Children’s Mercy.”
Because of the ongoing investigation, he said, the hospital “cannot comment further.”
Dan Margolies is a senior reporter and editor for KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.