Jury Acquits Pro-Life Activist Whose Home Was Raided by FBI

Samantha Flom
By Samantha Flom
January 31, 2023Politics

Pro-life activist Mark Houck was found not guilty by a federal court in Philadelphia on Jan. 30 on charges that arose from an October 2021 altercation outside a Planned Parenthood clinic.

Houck was accused of twice violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which prohibits “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services.”

Specifically, the Department of Justice (DOJ) alleged that Houck assaulted Bruce Love, a 72-year-old clinic escort, on two occasions—once by pushing him to the ground as he was escorting patients from the clinic and a second time during a verbal altercation in front of the facility.

Houck’s attorneys, however, argued that Love was “extremely aggressive” and had been “harassing” Houck’s 12-year-old son before any altercation ensued.

Houck, a father of seven, was arrested by the FBI in September in an early morning raid that was widely criticized by conservatives as evidence of the Biden administration’s political weaponization of the agency.

“If he was truly a danger to the community, they wouldn’t have waited a year to prosecute,” noted Patrick Breen, Houck’s attorney and vice president of the Thomas More Society, following Houck’s arrest.

“Serious questions need to be asked of the Attorney General,” Breen added. “What was he thinking? Why did they do this obscene show of force against a peaceful pillar of the community?”


According to Houck’s wife, Ryan-Marie Houck, the raid on their home involved dozens of armed FBI agents who threatened to break down their door and pointed weapons at family members.

“It’s hard to even express the victimization and how traumatized we all are,” she said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” after the arrest.

“My entire front yard, you could barely see it; it was covered with at least 15 big trucks and cars,” she added, estimating that 20 to 30 agents showed up at their home.

However, the FBI said that some facts of the arrest had been distorted in the retelling.

“No SWAT Team or SWAT operators were involved,” a spokesperson for the FBI’s Philadelphia office told The Epoch Times at the time. “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 bureau also held that the reported number of vehicles present was “overstated” and emphasized that the agents had acted in accordance with standard procedure in conducting the arrest.

Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, however, found the latter claim hard to believe.

In a Sept. 28 letter (pdf) to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the committee’s ranking member, noted that Houck had reportedly been cooperating with the DOJ and even offered to appear voluntarily but never received a response.

“Given their cooperation with federal law enforcement, the family did not expect to be awakened at 7 a.m. with reportedly over 20 FBI agents surrounding their home wearing armor-plated tactical vests, ballistic helmets, and holding ballistic shields and long guns,” Grassley wrote.

“Based on reports and allegations, the actions taken by the FBI reasonably call into question whether they complied with DOJ’s use of force policy,” the senator added. “The FBI must explain their justification for their actions on September 23, 2022.”


According to Catholic News Agency, the jury in the trial was shown video footage of the second incident, which showed Love approaching Houck and his son as they were standing outside of the Planned Parenthood clinic on the sidewalk. Love turned and walked back toward the clinic as Houck pointed at the entrance, then Love turned back around and approached the Houck a second time as they walked toward the street corner. Houck then turned and pushed Love, who fell to the ground.

The defense team reportedly held that Love said demeaning things to Houck’s son, provoking the altercation.

Love denied that claim, stating under oath that he had approached Houck twice that day as part of his duties as a clinic escort, which he said included telling patients that they didn’t have to listen to protesters.

Love also claimed that Houck had called him a “murderer” and “baby killer” and threatened to push him in the street, maintaining that all he said to Houck was, “Is that a threat?”

Per Catholic News Agency, Love was not seen with a patient in the video footage, and there was no video of the first incident.

The DOJ reportedly held that Houck’s alleged comments were evidence that he pushed Love to interfere with his duties as a clinic escort.

Houck’s legal team, however, charged that Love said more than he claimed.

“Do you remember saying [to Houck], ‘Why don’t you go home and masturbate?’” Brian McMonagle, one of the defense attorneys, asked Love.

He also asked Love if he recalled asking Houck’s son: “‘Do you see how your dad is hurting women? Your dad doesn’t care about women.’ Do you remember saying that?”

Love denied making those and other alleged comments, but witnesses testified that there was an argument or shouting that took place.

The defense initially sought to have the case dismissed, holding that Houck was merely responding to Love’s provocations and that the FACE Act was being “stretched a little thin” by the DOJ. But the judge did not grant the motion.

The Verdict

According to Catholic News Agency, the jury began its deliberations on Jan. 27 but ended the day in a deadlock. They resumed deliberations on Monday morning but one juror needed to be excused.

“Early this morning, we were notified that there was an issue with the jury, and one of the jurors had to be excused, who was not participating, quite frankly, in the deliberation process,” McMonagle said, per the outlet. “And we quickly worked to try and bring in an alternate juror. He came in and within an hour of him getting here, there was a unanimous not guilty verdict.”

After receiving the verdict, Houck joined with family and friends to pray and speak with reporters, stating that it was his Christian faith that got him through the ordeal.

“We [the Houcks] just feel privileged, and faith has brought us to that point where we feel that,” he explained. “So we’ve grown in faith, we’ve asked God to give us greater faith, and through today and this process … we have greater faith and trust in God than ever.”

Breen, also sharing his thoughts, asserted that the case was “an intimidation tactic” by the Biden DOJ.

“Our hope here is that a message was sent to Washington, D.C., to stop this harassment of sidewalk counselors who are just trying to provide alternatives to those who are facing an abortion decision,” he said. “And I hope this will be one of those points where a change is made so that no one else will have to suffer the same way that Mark and his family have suffered.”

From The Epoch Times

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