They attorney for pro-life advocate Mark Houck is concerned about this weeks trial of the pro-life father on bogus charges that he violated the federal FACE law when he was helping women outside an abortion center.
An abortion business escort accosted and bullied his son and Houck stepped in to stop it – and, in doing so, the older abortion center volunteer fell down.
Now Houck faces a decade in prison as a result.
Andrew Bath, Executive Vice President & General Counsel, of the Thomas More Society told LifeNews that the trial is now into its second day and initially selecting a jury.
“Yesterday, after over four hours of questioning, the twelve jurors who will hear the evidence at the trial were selected. Then the jury was dismissed for the remainder of the day and the judge heard arguments about the admissibility of certain documents and on the instructions he will read to the jury after the evidence is all in,” he explained.
Bath added: “This morning the trial began with each side making opening statements. Then the prosecution began to put on its case, calling the CEO of the local Planned Parenthood to take the stand. I expect the escort to testify before the trial is over. We are well prepared to vigorously cross-examine him and all of the prosecution’s witnesses.”
Eventually Houck will defend himself in court and explain that his actions do not deserve prosecution.
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“Once the prosecution rests its case, we will put on our witnesses. Mark Houck will take the stand in his own defense and tell the jury what actually happened that day. And Mark Jr. will testify to what he saw and heard from the vile escort. Then, each side will give closing arguments. Our best estimate right now is that the jury will begin its deliberations on Thursday afternoon or Friday morning,” Bath explained.
The pro-life attorney is concerned about the implications the case will have on pro-life Americans.
“If Mark Houck is convicted of these phony charges, the Biden DOJ have struck a devastating blow against sidewalk counselors across America. It would create a horrible and dangerous precedent and would encourage abortion escorts to get aggressive with sidewalk counselors,” he said. “But if Mark is acquitted, the Thomas More Society will have sent a message to the Biden administration and the abortion industry: you can’t mess with us and get away with it.”
Houck made national headlines last year after 20 heavily-armed federal agents stormed his home at dawn on September 23 — frightening his family, pointing guns at his head, and then arresting him in front of his wife and seven young children.
Biden’s FBI raided the home of the well-known pro-life advocate and arrested him on a bogus charge that had already been thrown out of court. Biden’s administration is coming under fire for weaponizing the FBI and Department of Justice to target pro-life conservatives.
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With the help of pro-life attorneys during an appearance in federal court, Houck pleaded not guilty in Pennsylvania federal court to violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which makes it a federal crime to use force with the intent to injure, intimidate and interfere with anyone trying to access either abortion at an abortion business or medical care at a pregnancy center.
Houck’s attorney, Peter Breen, said that the case already made its way through the state court process and was thrown out, but the Biden Department of Justice took up the matter nearly a year later as a form of “political prosecution.”
“If he was truly a danger to the community, they wouldn’t have waited a year to prosecute,” Breen, VP senior counsel of the Thomas Moore Society, said outside the courthouse. “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?”
“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,” Breen said.
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.
“This is a political prosecution,” Breen said. “And what’s clear from the Department of Justice at its highest levels which is directing this case 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.”
The U.S. government alleges that Houck assaulted and “forcefully shoved” Bruce Love, a 72-year-old volunteer at a Philadelphia Planned Parenthood.
Breen, however, categorized the abortion escort as “extremely aggressive,” saying Love was “harassing” Houck’s 12-year-old son before an “altercation ensued.”
“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 said on Tuesday.
Houck, a father of seven, is frequently seen sidewalk counseling in front of Philadelphia abortion businesses to help women choose pro-life alternatives.
In October 2021, Houck was involved in an incident outside a Philadelphia abortion business where a pro-abortion clinic escort had repeatedly bullied and intimidated his 12-year-old son who was with him to help sidewalk counsel and encourage women to choose pro-life alternatives. After multiple verbal assaults and the abortion activist getting into his son’s face, Houck pushed him away and he fell.
Houck, who regularly prays the rosary outside the clinic, maintains he was defending his 12-year-old son from the escort’s verbal harassment, a family spokesman, Brian Middleton, told CNA. The man fell when Houck pushed him away, Middleton said. The incident was so minor that charges were never pressed and a court ultimately dismissed a complaint the abortion activist filed.
In June 2022, Thomas More Society attorneys notified the Biden Department of Justice that the FACE Act does not cover one-on-one altercations like the one involving Houck, which was initiated by the abortion proponent who was harassing Houck’s son. The Department of Justice was also advised that if the decision was made to bring a charge against Houck despite lack of legal foundation, Houck would appear voluntarily.
“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,” explained Breen. “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.”
“This case is being brought solely to intimidate people of faith and pro-life Americans,” stated Breen. “Mark Houck is innocent of these lawless charges, and we intend to prove that in court.”
The case has drawn condemnation from pro-life members of Congress like Senator Josh Hawley and Congressman Chip Roy.
The DOJ charges go against court precedent. In June 2019, Thomas More Society attorneys won a case in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, establishing that a one-off altercation, like the one in which the Biden Department of Justice is levying two counts against Houck, cannot form the basis for a FACE claim.
As CNA reports, the incident at the abortion center was so minor that local charges were never filed.
When both the city police and the district attorney declined to file charges against Houck, the escort filed a private criminal complaint in Philadelphia municipal court, Middleton said. The case was dismissed in July when the man repeatedly didn’t show up in court, Middleton said.
Just days later, Houck received a “target letter” from the U.S. Attorney’s Office informing him that he was the focus of a federal criminal probe into the same incident, Middleton said.
Through his attorney at the time, Houck tried to contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office to discuss the case but never received a response, Middleton said.
“The next time they heard anything was Friday morning,” he said.
Biden’s Justice Department is now charging Houck with violating the FACE Act and Houck is now facing a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and fines of up to $350,000 for merely defending his son from being attacked.
However, Houck never blocked access to the abortion center, which is what the law is designed to stop, and the incident was nothing more than a minor scuffle.
The Houck family is now panicked about what will happen to Mark from here. A GiveSendGo has been set up to help raise funds to support them and to assist with Mark’s legal defense.