Mark Houck, the pro-life father of seven who was acquitted Monday in federal court of charges of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, said he is planning to sue the FBI and other authorities following his ordeal.
On a Jan. 31 episode of the podcast “War Room,” the host, Steve Bannon, asked Houck: “Do you intend to press charges for prosecutorial abuse? And are you going to press charges against the FBI agents and the state troopers?”
“We most definitely will and we will be seeking counsel on that,” Houck responded.
Houck was arrested Sept. 23, 2022, following a federal indictment alleging two violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, commonly referred to as the FACE Act.
The FACE Act prohibits “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services.”
At the time of the arrest, Houck’s wife, Ryan-Marie Houck, told CNA that “a SWAT team of about 25 came to my house with about 15 vehicles and started pounding on our door.” She added: “They said they were going to break in if he didn’t open it. And then they had about five guns pointed at my husband, myself, and basically at my kids.”
The allegations in the case were related to two incidents that took place on Oct. 13, 2021, at a Philadelphia abortion clinic, where Houck has been a longtime pro-life sidewalk counselor. 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.
The prosecution argued that Houck pushed Love because he was trying to interfere with his provision of reproductive health services. Houck said he pushed Love because he was just trying to protect his 12-year-old son who was being harassed by Love. A 12-person jury unanimously found Houck not guilty of both counts of violating the FACE Act on Monday.
After news of his acquittal broke, several supporters of Houck called for legal action against the Justice Department.
Until Monday, Houck himself had not made any public statements on the nature of his arrest, but he went into more detail on the podcast.
‘I have seven babies in here’
Houck said that a local criminal complaint against him in Philadelphia Municipal Court “went nowhere” and added that he was soon notified that he was the target of a grand jury investigation.
He said his lawyers at the time said that they would peacefully bring Houck in for questioning from authorities if needed.
“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 asked if the authorities would identify themselves before he opened the door, which they did.
“To which I replied, ‘Okay, I’m gonna open the door. Stay calm. I have seven babies in here,’ which were stirring at the time, but I didn’t know they were awake,” he said.
Houck said he opened the door and showed them his hands.
“As I opened the door, I could not believe the circus scene that I saw,” he said.
There were “at least 10, 15 marked and unmarked units right in front of me. Surrounding the side of my house, I have 100 yards to the street, cars lined all the way up to the street, long guns pointed at me, heavily armored vests, ballistic helmets, ballistic shields, a battering ram,” he said.
He said his daughter “took note” of an FBI agent in the back of the house, and there were at least five federal agents on his porch “with M-16s pointed at me and now my wife as she entered the opening of the door.”
“I opened the door and I said, ‘What are you doing here?’”
Story continues on Catholic News Agency here.