A jury on Monday acquitted Mark Houck, the Pennsylvania pro-life activist who was accused of pushing a Planned Parenthood escort during an altercation outside an abortion clinic, Life News reported.
Outside the courthouse following his acquittal, Houck, a Catholic author and sidewalk counselor, thanked the pro-life community for their support.
— LifeNews.com (@LifeNewsHQ) January 30, 2023
The Biden Department of Justice charged Houck, 48, with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which makes it a federal crime to use physical force with the intent to injure, intimidate and interfere with anyone obtaining or providing abortion services.
If convicted, he faced a maximum possible sentence of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and fines of up to $350,000.
Houck pleaded not guilty.
The arrest stemmed from an incident that took place outside a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood abortion clinic on Oct. 13, 2021. A 72-year-old pro-abort “escort” repeatedly bullied and hurled pejoratives and obscenities at Houck’s son, who had accompanied him to the clinic, Houck’s wife, Ryan-Marie, told LifeSiteNews.
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, according to Ryan-Marie, Mark would tell this person 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.
The incident was so minor city police and the district attorney declined to file charges against Houck, and after the escort filed a private criminal complaint in Philadelphia’s municipal court, the case was dismissed.
Nonetheless, the Biden DOJ decided to pursue the case as a potential violation of the FACE Act.
“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 in a DOJ press release. “Our Office and the Department of Justice are committed to prosecuting crimes which threaten the safety and rights of all individuals.”
On the morning of September 24, 2022, FBI agents descended on Houck’s rural home and arrested him in front of his terrified seven children, who looked on “screaming.”
At 7:05 a.m., 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,” Ryan Marie told LifeSite after the raid.
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.
“The kids were all just screaming. It was all just very scary and traumatic,” she explained.
“I’ve already reached out to some psychiatrists or psychologists to try and help us through this,” Ryan-Marie said. “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.”
Houck 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 gratuitous raid was an attempt to intimidate and humiliate an opponent of the Biden regime.
“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 Thomas More Society (TMS) Vice President and Senior Counsel Peter Breen last fall. “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.”
Breen added: “This case is being brought solely to intimidate people of faith and prolife Americans. Mark Houck is innocent of these lawless charges, and we intend to prove that in court.”
In comments to Life News following the verdict, Breen said: “Mark and his family are now free of the cloud that the Biden administration threw upon them. We took on Goliath – the full might of the United States government – and won.”
Houck led his family and supporters in prayer thanking God for his victory in court.
Mark Houck and his family pray and thank God for today's not guilty verdict.
— LifeNews.com (@LifeNewsHQ) January 30, 2023
Fox News’ Sean Hannity aired the footage of the Oct. 13 altercation on his show Monday night:
BREAKING: Hannity just aired the footage of the incident between Mark Houck and the Planned Parenthood escort, who clearly walks down the road to where Houck and his son are praying and counseling to threaten them.
The Biden DOJ tried to put him in jail for 11 years for this. pic.twitter.com/jqpFQi7zCv
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) January 31, 2023