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Ex-Rays doctor has spent years serving his hometown

Times Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG — Dr. Michael Reilly returned to his hometown after medical school to became a medical leader in his community. His curriculum vitae reads like a "who’s who" of charities and organizations.

The 67-year-old family practitioner and father of six has offered his time and services to dozens of groups; some offering medical care to homeless and pregnant women; others that help low-income patients; and he volunteered to help the athletes at his alma mater, St. Petersburg Catholic High School.

Reilly has served as team doctor for both the Tampa Bay Rays and Lighting sports franchises, has staff privileges at St. Anthony’s Hospital and his own practice in the city.

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The Rays fired Reilly after two decades on Jan. 30, after one of the doctor’s former employees accused him of sexual abuse in a video posted to YouTube.

Former staffer Brianna Holzerland, 26, who worked in his private practice at St. Anthony’s, said Reilly subjected her to inappropriate behavior and sexual abuse when she was a teen about 8-10 years ago.

In a statement, the doctor vehemently denied the allegations, saying he was in a consensual relationship with her when she was an adult.

"I’ve dedicated my life to medicine and making our community a better place to live, so having my reputation tarnished in this manner is disturbing," Reilly said in the statement.

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The St. Petersburg Police Department opened an investigation into the allegations, and some of the organizations that Reilly was affiliated with have since distanced themselves from the prominent doctor.

Reilly, through his attorney, declined to comment for this story.

A search through his resume reveals the doctor’s roots in the local medical community.

He grew up in St. Petersburg and graduated from St. Petersburg Catholic in 1968. From there he attended the University of Notre Dame on a tennis scholarship, and later obtained his medical degree at Loyola University Chicago’s medical school.

He returned to St. Petersburg to complete his residency at Bayfront Medical Center, now called Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, records show. He is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine in family, geriatric, sports and adolescent medicine.

After completing his residency in 1980, Reilly opened a private family practice at St. Anthony’s, where he still has staff privileges and can treat patients. From 2000 to 2002, he served as chief of staff at the hospital, an unpaid rotating position similar to a volunteer chair of a board of directors, leading the medical staff and working with hospital administration on initiatives.

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St. Anthony’s spokeswoman Beth Hardy said the hospital’s administration is "reviewing the situation" in regards to Reilly.

"We are, as you can understand, very concerned with the nature of the allegations and empathetic to anybody who has experienced abuse or who has been a victim of abuse," Hardy said. "We are waiting for more information to come forward."

State medical records show Reilly also has staff privileges at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

Despite all of his medical commitments, the doctor has maintained a rigorous volunteer schedule.

He has offered monthly care to low-income families through the St. Petersburg Free Clinic for more than 30 years, said executive director Beth Houghton. During that time, she said, the organization’s leadership has received commendations for Reilly’s work.

"Both his dedication, that he can be counted on, and his professionalism," she said.

In light of the recent allegations, Houghton said the Free Clinic will not schedule Reilly for a volunteer shift "until the investigation is settled out." She said leadership had not received any complaints about Reilly from staff or patients, but was "gathering information" about his tenure there.

He also served on the board of Alpha House of Pinellas County, an organization that offers housing and support to homeless pregnant women and teens, new mothers and families undergoing crisis pregnancies. He has since resigned the position, according to Alpha House. Executive Director Jennifer Stracick declined to say if the charity received any complaints against Reilly.

Reilly also served as a volunteer physician for St. Petersburg Catholic’s football team and as a member of the Diocesan Review Board. He agreed to resign both those positions once the allegations surfaced, school officials said.

In an email to the Tampa Bay Times, school spokeswoman Teresa Peterson said it has notified parents of the allegations against the doctor and asked anyone who "is aware of inappropriate behavior by anyone serving at St. Petersburg Catholic High school they should contact the school administration or the Diocesan Safe environment Office."

They could also contact law enforcement, Peterson wrote, or the state’s abuse hotline. "To date, we have not been contacted by anyone in response to the letter," Peterson wrote.

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Reilly also holds two unpaid appointments with the University of South Florida’s medical branch, USF Health, as a voluntary assistant professor in the department of family medicine and a similar position in the nursing college.

Voluntary positions are granted to hundreds of doctors across the Tampa Bay region who host students or residents to train in their medical offices, USF Health officials said. The university had not received any complaints about Reilly, officials said, and his status as a voluntary assistant professor was "under review."

The status of Reilly’s medical license remains "clear/active," according to state medical records. He was once accused of malpractice in 2002, after state records show he likely misdiagnosed a heart attack and the patient later died. His insurance company settled for $250,000.

According to Reilly’s curriculum vitae, he was selected by fellow doctors as a U.S News & World Report top doctor in 2012 and 2013. He was also honored by Boy Scouts of America Greater Tampa Bay Area Council in November, receiving a Distinguished Citizen Award.

Since his collegiate athletics days, Reilly has remained an avid tennis player and triathlete. He was once ranked Florida’s top 55-plus tennis player, and has competed in all but one — 33 of 34 — St. Anthony’s Traithlons.

Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 909-4613 or jsolomon@tampabay.com. Follow @ByJoshSolomon.

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