Pro-life activist Mark Houck pleaded not guilty to two counts of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act Tuesday, appearing in court for the first time since FBI agents descended on his home and allegedly took him away in front of his “screaming” children.
Houck was taken into custody Friday morning for alleged violations of the FACE Act, stemming from an incident in October 2021, when he pushed a pro-abortion activist outside of an abortion clinic. Houck only pushed the man after he repeatedly used obscene language and invaded his 12-year-old son’s personal space, according to Houck’s wife.
The pro-abortion activist, identified as Bruce Love, pressed charges after the altercation, but the charges were thrown out. The Department of Justice took up the charges again nearly a year later, Fox News reported.
“The FBI of course did not pick up those same charges. They picked up different ones,” Thomas More Society senior counsel Matt Heffron, one of the lawyers on Houck’s case, told National Review.
The local police refused to take on the case back in 2021, and Love filed a private criminal complaint against Houck, Heffron said. Love then failed to come to court “four or five times,” whereas Houck “showed up every time,” bringing the judge to drop the charges.
“He had Mark show up every time, wasting his time of course,” Heffron said, adding that it was probably “meant to harass Mr. Houck.”
Houck was made aware of the FBI investigation approximately in May of 2022 when he received a letter informing him of the case.
When asked why the FBI decided to bring the FACE Act against Houck so many months later, Heffron said that the Biden administration has been trying to find “new ways to use the FACE Act against peaceful pro-lifers.”
“If he was truly a danger to the community, they wouldn’t have waited a year to prosecute,” said Peter Breen — who is also senior counsel at the Thomas More Society and working Houck’s case — on Tuesday outside the courthouse in Philadelphia, Fox News reported. “Serious questions need to be asked of the Attorney General. What was he thinking? Why did they do this obscene show of force against a peaceful pillar of the community?”
Houck’s wife, Ryan-Marie Houck, claims that their rural home was raided by 25-to-30 armed FBI agents in the early hours of Friday morning, and that the agents pointed their guns at the family.
A spokesman for the FBI Philadelphia field office told Fox News that no SWAT operators were used in Houck’s arrest and said that agents did not point their guns at Houck or his family members, but admitted their weapons were drawn when they knocked on Houck’s door.
“They commented that it was not SWAT. What they were saying was, it was not technically a SWAT unit. But it was the same effect, where they sent anywhere from 15 to 25 officers . . . fully armed at the break of dawn . . . they are the same as a SWAT team,” Heffron said.
“It put officers’ lives in danger. It put the Houck family in danger. And it was an utter waste of judicial resources and taxpayer resources,” said Breen.
On Monday, the law firm issued a statement their attorneys released a statement on behalf of Houck, in June, asserting that the FACE Act “does not cover one-on-one altercations like the one involving Houck,” and that he would “appear voluntarily” if charges were brought against him.
“Rather than accepting Mark Houck’s offer to appear voluntarily, the Biden Department of Justice chose to make an unnecessary show of potentially deadly force, sending twenty heavily armed federal agents to the Houck residence at dawn this past Friday,” Breen said in the Monday statement.