Pro-life activist Mark Houck pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to federal charges after he was arrested by FBI agents in an early morning raid last week that was decried by his wife.
Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors accused Houck of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act and said he forcefully shoved an abortion clinic escort to the ground two times in an incident in Philadelphia last October. A spokesperson for Houck, however, disputed those allegations over the weekend and noted that at the local level, the case was thrown out.
He pleaded not guilty to the two counts in connection to the incident inside a Philadelphia federal court on Tuesday, according to Fox News.
Houck’s attorney, Peter Breen, said Tuesday that the case was already tossed in Pennsylvania state courts.
“If he was truly a danger to the community, they wouldn’t have waited a year to prosecute,” Breen, with the Thomas Moore Society, said outside the Philadelphia courthouse, according to Fox News. “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?”
The FBI raid and indictment is politically motivated, said Breen, who asserted that the DOJ and FBI “are trying to send a message to pro-life and people of faith” to “not 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,” he continued. “And that’s not going to happen.”
In a news release, the DOJ alleged Houck assaulted and shoved a 72-year-old man, B.L., to the ground as he was escorting people at a Planned Parenthood location in Philadelphia. Breen disputed those claims and said B.L. was “extremely aggressive” and “harassing” Houck’s 12-year-old son before an “altercation ensued.”
In June, Houck offered to voluntarily surrender to the DOJ on the charges, Breen told media outlets on Monday.
Houck’s wife, Ryan-Marie Houck, alleged to several news websites over the past weekend that dozens of FBI agents showed up at their home, with guns drawn, and threatened to break down their door if they didn’t open. Then, the agents went inside and pointed their firearms at Houck, his wife, and possibly their children, she said.
When reached for comment, an FBI spokesperson told The Epoch Times that some allegations about the raid were inaccurate.
“There are inaccurate claims being made regarding the arrest of Mark Houck. No SWAT Team or SWAT operators were involved,” the FBI Philadelphia office told The Epoch Times on Monday. “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 FBI didn’t directly address claims made by Ryan-Marie Houck that agents had their guns drawn and pointed them at her and Mark Houck.
“While it’s the FBI’s standard practice not to discuss such operational specifics, we can say that the number of personnel and vehicles widely reported as being on scene Friday is an overstatement, and the tactics used by FBI personnel were professional, in line with standard practices, and intended to ensure the safety of everyone present in and outside the residence,” it said.
Republicans and conservatives have condemned the FBI and DOJ over his arrest, accusing the Biden administration of targeting law-abiding citizens for political gain.
A GiveSendGo fundraiser has raised more than $262,000 for Houck’s family as of Tuesday afternoon.
From The Epoch Times