Woman Stands by Allegations of Abuse against Ex-tampa Bay Rays Doctor
By Colleen Wright
Tampa Bay Times
January 31, 2018
|Brianna Holzerland, 26, using the name Brianna Rah, posted a video on YouTube in which she claimed prominent St. Petersburg Dr. Michael Reilly subjected her to inappropriate behavior and sexually abused her as a teenager nearly a decade ago. The Tampa Bay Rays saw the video on Tuesday and fired Reilly as its team physician. Reilly has denied the allegations and said he had a consensual relationship with her as an adult. Holzerland issued a statement on Wednesday saying she stands by the allegations. [Image from YouTube video]|
Brianna Holzerland said she stands by her allegations that she was subjected to inappropriate behavior and sexual abuse nearly a decade ago by former Tampa Bay Rays physician Michael Reilly.
Holzerland, 26, said it happened while she worked as a teenager at the doctorís office. Reilly, who has denied the allegations, was fired by the Rays on Tuesday after executives saw the 10-minute YouTube video she posted online.
She released this statement Wednesday to the Tampa Bay Times:
"I stand with the facts stated in my original video which took several years for me to verbalize. As I stated in my video if I can help one person that may be in a position that I was in several years ago then that is enough."
The video led St. Petersburg police to launch an investigation. Reilly also resigned from a similar medical position at St. Petersburg Catholic High School.
In a statement made through his attorney, Reilly has denied the allegations and said he was engaged in a consensual relationship with her when she was an adult.
In the video, Holzerland said that she was 16 when she started working at Reillyís office and that he would "put his hand on my hand," and "put his hand on my shoulder and lightly rub my back."
She said she quit "shortly after I noticed he was touching me in exam rooms." She said Reilly invited her to return to work eight months later and "the same thing started happening, and this time it did progress."
Eventually she said she became "numb" to being touched inappropriately as it "progressively got worse and worse." The doctor tried to get her alone, she said, and would "shut the door and try and kiss me." She said her experiences left her suffering from anxiety attacks and dealing with other issues.
Holzerland posted the video to YouTube on Jan. 17, titled "The Importance of Sharing My Story of Sexual Abuse," and linked it to her Facebook page.
In her statement, she explained why she came forward years later and the criticism she has received for doing so: "The importance here is to understand how grooming works. My goal was to educate the public and help them understand why victims take a long time to come forth in explaining their stories. It is an extremely slow process that is thought out in detail by the abuser.
"I knew criticism would occur when releasing this video since Michael Reilly was looked at as an active and positive member in the community, but I was willing to take a stance for others who do not want their names made public.
"As you can see, there is a reason victims become ashamed and embarrassed to open up about the truth. This is attributed to negative comments made by the public which have a larger impact on a victim who has gone through an already difficult situation."
Reilly, in the statement sent by his attorney, Cathleen Bell Bremmer, said he was "deeply troubled by the allegations" and "sympathetic to the pain she has expressed."
He added: "I deny her allegations of sexual abuse. We did, however, have a consensual relationship when she was an adult, which I regret.
"Iíve 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, 67, is married with six sons. He spent two decades working with the Rays, served as team physician for the Tampa Bay Lightning from 1992 to 2002 and was chief of staff at St. Anthonyís Hospital from 2000 to 2001.
"I have shared as much detail as I feel comfortable sharing at this time," Holzerland said. "I would ask you to please try to understand how hard it was for me to find the strength to share my experiences of abuse, which is why I do not intend to make any further public comment on my specific experiences at this time."
>Times senior news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Colleen Wright at (727) 893-8643 or email@example.com. Follow @Colleen_Wright. >