A fundraising campaign set up for pro-life advocate Mark Houck has netted nearly $350,000 to date to help with his legal defense.
LifeSiteNews reported that FBI agents swarmed Houck’s home in rural Pennsylvania early Friday morning, arresting him in front of his family.
The Biden administration’s Justice Department charged Houck — co-founder and president of the Catholic ministry The King’s Men — with a Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act violation regarding an incident that happened at a Philadelphia abortion facility last year.
Fox News reported that Houck pleaded not guilty in federal court on Tuesday.
Houck’s wife, Ryan-Marie, told LifeSiteNews the incident at the clinic involved a Planned Parenthood escort who had repeatedly verbally harassed the couple’s then-12-year-old son. Their son had accompanied his father while he prayed and conducted sidewalk counseling outside the clinic.
According to Ryan-Marie, the escort said very vulgar things to their son. The man then followed the boy down the sidewalk and got in his face, at which point Mark stepped in and told him to back away. The escort refused, so Houck pushed him away.
The escort fell to the ground and suffered a minor injury, requiring a “Band-Aid on his finger,” family spokesman Brian Middleton told Catholic News Agency.
Prosecutors declined to press charges, and a state court dismissed a criminal complaint the escort filed against Houck, according to Middleton.
Houck’s attorney, Peter Breen with the Thomas More Society, told Fox the DOJ decided to file its charges against his client a year after the case had been dismissed in state court.
“Breen said his team contacted the DOJ and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in June to inform them they had no case based on controlling precedent, but if they decided to indict, defense would present Houck willingly in response to a summons. Breen said the next notice he received was that his client was in custody,” Fox reported.
This is a disgrace and should not be happening in America. Pray for Mark Houck and his family.
— John-Henry Westen (@JhWesten) September 24, 2022
The attorney was in disbelief.
“What in the world would possess the Department of Justice to send 20 or so heavily armed agents to this family’s home, violate the sanctity of that home, frighten the children and then drag their father away instead of allowing us to present him peacefully, which we had offered to do?” Breen asked.
“This is a political prosecution,” he said.
“And what’s clear from the Department of Justice at its highest levels, which is directing this case, [is] that they are trying to send a message to pro-life and people of faith: ‘Don’t mess with us.’ They want to intimidate — they want to cause good people like Mark to stop praying and counseling at the abortion clinics of our country. And that’s not going to happen.”
Ryan-Marie told LifeSiteNews reporter Patrick Delaney the FBI raid of their home was “traumatic.”
She recounted that just after 7 a.m., around 15 vehicles with about 25 FBI agents surrounded the house. “They started pounding on the door and yelling for us to open it,” Ryan-Marie said.
Before opening the door, she recalled that her husband tried to settle the FBI agents down, 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 said.
They entered the house and 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,” Ryan-Marie explained. “The kids were all just screaming. It was all just very scary and traumatic.”
Houck was put in handcuffs and taken into custody.
Delaney pointed out on the Christian commentary program “Flashpoint” on Tuesday night that the FACE Act makes it a crime to impede someone from going into an abortion clinic, which has nothing to do with the shoving incident in question.
“They have no case,” Delaney said, referring to the DOJ. “This was merely a case of terrorism by our government upon this family.”
Delaney’s appearance on the program starts at the 43:40 mark.
“Violence that is motivated for a political purpose, especially against civilians, is called terrorism, and we have to have the courage to call it what it is,” Delaney argued.
He further predicted the DOJ will keep engaging in this type of conduct “until they hit a force that is stronger than them, and that has to be the American people.”
“It has to be, hopefully, [the] Nov. 8 elections that can neutralize what these people are doing,” Delaney said.
In a statement to Fox, the FBI’s Philadelphia office defended how it conducted the Houck 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 agency said.
“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.”
If Houck is convicted, he faces up to 11 years in prison and up to a $350,000 fine, according to CNA.
A GiveSendGo campaign to benefit Houck’s legal defense can be found here.
A version of this article originally appeared on Patriot Project.
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