In the early morning of Sept. 23, 2022, pro-life activist and father of seven Mark Houck heard pounding on his front door. It was the FBI, along with about 25 armed agents and police officers, looking to arrest him.
Houck, an anti-abortion activist, was being charged with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, commonly referred to as the FACE Act. The charges stemmed from two altercations outside of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia where Houck has been a longtime pro-life sidewalk counselor. The Catholic News Agency reported that “The federal indictment alleged that Houck twice shoved an abortion clinic escort, Bruce Love, once when Love was attempting to escort clients and again during a verbal altercation with Love in front of the clinic.”
State charges relating to the incidents “went nowhere,” according to Houck. But a grand jury indicted him and Houck’s lawyer informed the court that he would surrender voluntarily.
What happened next is hard to fathom.
“The next thing I know, I had 20-plus federal agents and state troopers banging on my door at 6:45 in the morning on Sept. 23, Friday morning,” he said.
Houck said he was awake, but his wife and kids were asleep. He said the FBI “repeatedly” rang the doorbell and banged on the door saying “open up.’”
Houck said that the authorities did not identify themselves while banging on the door.
He described the FBI’s tactics as “recklessness” and an “act of terror.”
Houck didn’t own a gun and there was no reason for how federal agents acted that morning except as a means to intimidate not just Houck, but pro-life activists in general.
Houck was acquitted of the federal charges last January. He has now filed suit in federal court accusing the FBI of “a faulty investigation” and using “excessive force” to arrest him.
“These government agents intentionally sought to assault Mr. Houck and deprive him of his Fourth Amendment rights by using excessive force to arrest him on non-violent charges when he had not threatened law enforcement, did not own a gun, and had offered to turn himself into authorities if indicted,” the lawsuit, filed by law firm Graves Garrett LLC, read.
Can you say, “Gestapo”?
Houck’s wife described in her suit the trauma she and her children experienced.
Ryan-Marie Houck’s complaint describes how profoundly her husband’s arrest has impacted their children, Mark Jr., Ava Marie, Kathryn, Therese, Joshua, Augustine, and Imelda.
“Her children have also suffered immense emotional trauma and physical manifestations of stress that Mrs. Houck has carried alone while her husband was away during his imprisonment and prosecution,” the complaint says.
Most tragically of all, her complaint says, Ryan-Marie and Mark Houck have lost three babies through miscarriages “due to the stress of the FBI’s conduct and resulting prosecution.”
“The stress of these events was so difficult that the Houcks have been diagnosed with infertility,” the complaint says.
The Houck’s are looking for $1.1 million in damages for the arrest. No doubt, the federal government will draw out the proceedings for as long as possible, putting the Houcks through more trauma, hoping they will give up, or just make their lives a living hell.
Just as they’ve already done.