Mark Hoeltzel, a former pediatric doctor at Michigan Medicine, accepted a plea deal amid allegations of child sex and pornography in federal court last Thursday, MLive reported. Hoeltzel pleaded guilty to one felony count of enticement of a minor.  

Upon knowledge of the ongoing investigation last December, Michigan Medicine immediately terminated Hoeltzel, who was later stripped of his medical license. Hoeltzel admitted to creating a fake Facebook account in 2017 under the name Ryan Gardner. Hoeltzel used the account to pretend to be a teenage boy, talking to minor girls and engaging in sexual conversations.

Police executed a search warrant in Hoeltzel’s home in Ann Arbor, finding a flash drive that contained more than 200 images of child pornography. They also found Facebook conversation history with a 14-year-old girl from Colorado, with whom he exchanged explicit photos.

In addition to his online messaging, Hoeltzel was under investigation for engaging in sexual acts with a patient, whom he was allegedly over-medicating for rheumatoid arthritis. The patient was also diagnosed with various mental health illnesses.

Though only charged last year, Hoeltzel was investigated by University of Michigan police in 2006 amid complaints from a mother of an 11-year-old girl who found inappropriate Yahoo messages between the girl and Hoeltzel. Hoeltzel first began messaging the girl after they met at a U-M arthritis camp in 2004, after which the conversations continued for two years. Hoeltzel was asked to take a “boundaries class” in lieu of further investigation or punishment.

Six of Hoeltzel’s original felony charges were dismissed under his plea agreement, including receiving and possession of child pornography, production of child pornography, enticement of a minor, and three counts of transfer of obscene materials to a minor.

Hoeltzel’s presentence calls for him to serve for 14 to 17 years, and he will have to federally register as a sex offender. His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 13 before U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow.  

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