Catholic speaker and pro-life advocate Mark Houck, who was abruptly arrested at his home in September, was acquitted by the Philadelphia District Court of the federal charges related to the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. The charges were brought against him following an altercation with a volunteer from an abortion clinic.
Houck was arrested on Sept. 23, 2022 after more than 20 FBI agents raided his residence and entered "with huge rifles" creating a "scary and traumatic" scene in front of his wife and children.
The warrant charged Houck with two alleged violations of the FACE Act following the alleged "attack of a patient escort" at an abortion clinic in October 2021. He was there providing counseling for the religious group The King's Men, of which he is founder and president.
DOJ files charges
The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed charges against Houck alleging that he pushed Bruce Love, a 73-year-old Planned Parenthood volunteer, who denied verbally provoking him. However, Houck claims that he pushed the activist because his 12-year-old son was being harassed by him.
Mark's wife testified that their older son had been constantly attending meetings of his father's organization and that, for "weeks and weeks," a "pro-abortion protester" would speak to the child saying "crude ... inappropriate and disgusting things."
Repeatedly, Mark warned the man that he was not allowed to talk to his son and requested that he stop. However, the subject "kept doing it" and entered his son's personal space. At that point, "Mark shoved him away from his child, and the guy fell back."
Facing 11 years in prison
Mark was facing up to 11 years in prison. The FACE Act allows the federal government to bring criminal charges against anyone it deems to have committed "threats of force, obstruction and property damage intended to interfere with reproductive health care services."
"Houck's arrest and case made national headlines as an abuse of power by the Justice Department and a weaponizing of government against speech and opinions in opposition of the liberal Biden administration agenda," noted NewsMax.
Found not guilty
Judge Gerald Pappert found Houck not guilty of the charges. After his acquittal, the speaker told reporters that "it's a relief." He commented that they could not have overcome this situation "without faith" and that he feels "overjoyed" and "blessed."
- Joe Bukuras (@JoeBukuras) January 30, 2023
The Thomas More Society, which represented Houck in the trial, welcomed the jury's decision and claimed that the entire case was "discriminatory" and "harassment" on the part of the Biden Administration. Executive Vice President and Head of Litigation Peter Breen stated:
Mark and his family are now free of the cloud that the Biden administration threw upon themWe took on Goliath — the full might of the United States government — and won. The jury saw through and rejected the prosecution's discriminatory case, which was harassment from day one. ... This is a win for Mark and the entire pro-life movement. The Biden Department of Justice's intimidation against pro-life people and people of faith has been put in its place.