FBI agents descended on the rural home of a Catholic author and pro-life sidewalk counselor Friday morning, and arrested him for an alleged violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances “FACE” Act while his terrified seven children looked on “screaming.”
The subject had no criminal record, nor any history of violence, and had already agreed to turn himself in if a decision was made to bring charges against him, despite the baselessness of the charges. According to some legal experts, the raid was an attempt to intimidate and humiliate an opponent of the Biden regime.
Mark Houck is the founder and president of The King’s Men, an “authentically Catholic and unapologetically masculine” apostolate opposes pornography and promotes Christian virtues among men in the United States and Europe.
Houck’s wife, Ryan-Marie, told LifeSiteNews that he drives two hours south to Philadelphia every Wednesday to pray the Rosary and sidewalk counsel for six to eight hours at two different abortion clinics. His arrest stemmed from an altercation that took place outside a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood abortion clinic a year ago. A 72-year-old pro-abort “escort” repeatedly bullied and hurled pejoratives and obscenities at his son, who had accompanied him to the clinic, and the father reacted.
On several occasions when Mark went to sidewalk counsel last year, he took his eldest son, who was only 12 at the time, she explained. For “weeks and weeks,” a “pro-abortion protester” would speak to the boy saying “crude … inappropriate and disgusting things,” such as “you’re dad’s a fag,” and other statements that were too vulgar for her to convey.
Repeatedly, Mark would tell this pro-abortion man that he did not have permission to speak to his son and please refrain from doing so. And “he kept doing it and kind of came into [the son’s] personal space” obscenely ridiculing his father. At this point, “Mark shoved him away from his child, and the guy fell back.”
“He didn’t have any injuries or anything, but he tried to sue Mark,” Ryan-Marie explained.
Family spokesman Brian Middleton told the Catholic News Agency that the altercation was captured on a video, and the Houcks are in the process of locating it.
The incident was so minor that charges were not pressed and the abortion activist’s complaint was thrown out of court, CNA reported.
When both the city police and the district attorney declined to file charges against Houck, the escort filed a private criminal complaint in Philadelphia municipal court, Middleton said. The case was dismissed in July when the man repeatedly didn’t show up in court, Middleton said.
The incident may have been too minor for the police or the municipal court to pursue, but not the Biden Justice Department.
A few days after the case was dismissed, Houck received a “target letter” from the U.S. Attorney’s Office informing him that he was the focus of a federal criminal probe into the incident, Middleton said.
“If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and fines of up to $350,000,” the DOJ said in a press release.
“Assault is always a serious offense, and under the FACE Act, if the victim is targeted because of their association with a reproductive healthcare clinic, it is a federal crime,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “Our Office and the Department of Justice are committed to prosecuting crimes which threaten the safety and rights of all individuals.”
“Put simply, violence is never the answer,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Violating the FACE Act by committing a physical assault is a serious crime for which the FBI will work to hold offenders accountable.”
The not-for-profit, national public interest law firm, the Thomas More Society (TMS), is handling Houck’s case.
TMS Vice President and Senior Counsel Peter Breen, said he notified the Justice Department and argued that the altercation does not fall under the federal FACE Act as it was initiated by the abortion volunteer.
Breen said the DOJ was also “advised that if the decision was made to bring a charge against Houck despite lack of legal foundation, Houck would appear voluntarily.”
“Rather than accepting Mark Houck’s offer to appear voluntarily, the Biden Department of Justice chose to make an show of potentially deadly force, sending twenty heavily armed federal agents to the Houck residence at dawn this past Friday,” said Breen. “In threatening form, after nearly breaking down the family’s front door, at least five agents pointed guns at Mark’s head and arrested him in front of his wife and seven young children, who were terrified that their husband and father would be shot dead before their eyes.”
Ryan-Marie, who is a homeschooling mother, described to LifeSite how at 7:05 a.m. Friday morning, 25 to 30 FBI agents arrived in approximately 15 vehicles, and swarmed their property. They surrounded the house with rifles in firing position, and “started pounding on the door and yelling for us to open it,” she recalled.
She said her husband tried to calm them, saying, “‘Please, I’m going to open the door, but, please, my children are in the home. I have seven babies in the house.’ But they just kept pounding and screaming.”
When he opened the door, “they had big, huge rifles pointed at Mark and pointed at me and kind of pointed throughout the house,” Ryan-Marie told LifeSite.
As they entered the home, they reportedly ordered the children to stay upstairs. “Our staircase is open, so [the kids] were all at the top of the stairs which faces the front door, and I was on the stairs as well, coming down.”
“The kids were all just screaming. It was all just very scary and traumatic,” she explained.
Ryan-Marie told LifeSite that she asked the agents why they were at their house, and they said they were there to arrest her husband. When she asked for their warrant, “they said that they were going to take him whether they had a warrant or not.”
Ryan-Marie protested, saying that amounted to kidnapping: “You can’t just come to a person’s house and kidnap them at gunpoint,” she said. After that the agents agreed to get the warrant for her from one of their vehicles.
She said Mark asked her to grab a sweatshirt and his rosaries for him, and when she returned, they already had loaded him into a vehicle.
The warrant said they were taking him to “the federal building in downtown Philadelphia,” according to Ryan-Marie. She told LifeSite that when it was all over, he agents seemed to regret what they had just done.
“After they had taken Mark, and the kids were all screaming that he was their best friend, the [FBI agents on her porch] kind of softened a bit. I think they realized what was happening. Or maybe they actually looked at the warrant,” Ryan-Marie explained. “They looked pretty ashamed at what had just happened.”
She said her kids were “really sad and stressed” by the over-the-top raid. “So, I’ve already reached out to some psychiatrists or psychologists to try and help us through this. I don’t really know what’s going to come of it when you see guns pointed at your dad and your mom in your house when you first wake up in the morning,” the home-schooling mom lamented.
The warrant charged Mark with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, due to a claimed “ATTACK OF A PATIENT ESCORT.”
Since the Biden administration has taken power in January 2021, Garland’s Department of Justice and the FBI have committed dozens of SWAT team raids that have been characterized as a political “weaponization” of the federal agencies against pro-lifers, Trump supporters, conservative Christians, and medical freedom advocates.
For example, in contrast to left-wing rioters who caused enormous damage in cities across the nation in 2020, and the vandals who have attacked dozens of pro-life centers this year with little or no legal ramifications, the Department of Justice implemented the harshest of consequences for those they identified as having anything to do with the disturbance at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. These actions have included early morning SWAT team arrests, ransacked homes, confiscation of property, indefinite pre-trial solitary confinement without bail in a dedicated D.C. prison, significant physical abuse, and the violation of the Constitutional right to a speedy trial.
In March, the FBI rounded up 10 pro-life activists, including Joan Andrews Bell, with SWAT team raids that serve to intimidate and humiliate the accused through an exercise of excessive force.
A surfaced video of one of these raids shows armed agents holding pro-lifers at gunpoint and ordering them to put their hands up, drop to their knees and scoot backward out their front door in the middle of the night. The pro-lifers are respectful and compliant throughout.
After the FBI’s unprecedented August 8 raid on President Donald Trump’s Mar-A-Lago home, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called it “another escalation in the weaponization of federal agencies against the Regime’s political opponents.”
Soon after Joe Biden’s September 1 speech where he declared war on conservative Christians, dozens of Trump allies had their homes raided by the FBI, which Steve Bannon referred to as “a Gestapo tactic,” and said it was “all about intimidation.”
A GiveSendGo has been set up to help raise funds to support the family and to assist with Mark’s legal defense.
Houck will appear in federal court in Philadelphia for arraignment on September 27, 2022, with his Thomas More Society attorneys by his side.
“This case is being brought solely to intimidate people of faith and prolife Americans,” stated Breen. “Mark Houck is innocent of these lawless charges, and we intend to prove that in court.”
FBI Philadelphia said in a statement to Fox News Digital on Monday that the “number of personnel and vehicles widely reported as being on scene Friday is an overstatement.” a
“Extensive planning takes place prior to the service of any federal warrant. The FBI then employs the personnel and tactics deemed necessary to effect a safe arrest or search. While it’s the FBI’s standard practice not to discuss such operational specifics, we can say that the number of personnel and vehicles widely reported as being on scene Friday is an overstatement, and the tactics used by FBI personnel were professional, in line with standard practices, and intended to ensure the safety of everyone present in and outside the residence,” an FBI spokesperson said.
In the statement, the FBI denied a SWAT team or operators were involved in the arrest.
“FBI agents knocked on Mr. Houck’s front door, identified themselves as FBI agents, and asked him to exit the residence. He did so and was taken into custody without incident pursuant to an indictment,” the statement said.
“This is a disturbing incident by the FBI,” said Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett, pointing out that the DOJ could have just called Houck’s attorneys and told them to have their client turn himself in, rather than showing up at his door.