PHILADELPHIA (LifeSiteNews) — Catholic father of seven and pro-life sidewalk counselor Mark Houck and his young son Mark Jr. are taking the stand Friday in the blockbuster case that many of Houck’s supporters argue is an example of the Biden administration’s persecution of pro-life Americans.
As originally reported by LifeSiteNews, Houck was subjected to a dawn raid by Biden’s FBI last year. The DOJ has charged Houck with two felonies for allegedly violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act when he pushed abortion clinic “escort” Bruce Love, 73, during sidewalk altercations on two separate occasions in 2021.
Attorneys with the Thomas More Society who are representing Houck say the local pro-life leader had pushed Love to protect his then-12-year-old son whom Love had been verbally harassing using vulgar language.
The criminal trial, United States v. Mark Houck, began Tuesday in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and is anticipated to wrap up Friday, after Houck and his son present their testimony.
UPDATE (01/30/23): Mark Houck has been AQUITTED on both charges!
Thanks be to God LifeSiteNews can report that Mark Houck has been found "Not Guilty" on all counts today.
In a statement to LifeSiteNews, Pro-Life Coalition of Pennsylvania spokeswoman and Houck family friend Ashley Garecht said “We rejoice and celebrate that Mark Houck has been found not guilty on all counts.”
“This case was always about a father’s right to protect his son, and never had anything to do with the FACE act,” she said. “We are grateful to the judge for his integrity, and to the jurors for their thoughtful deliberations. We are grateful to Mark’s attorneys who labored so diligently in his defense. And we are grateful for all of those who surrounded and supported Mark and his family in prayer through this challenging ordeal.”
“Most of all we praise and thank God for his protection and provision,” Garecht added. “To Him be all the glory.”
The Thomas More Society is set to hold a press conference today on the 6th street side of the James A. Byrne U.S. Courthouse, 601 Market Street, Philadelphia.
Monday’s verdict came after a tense weekend wait following a deadlocked jury on Friday.
Several hours into Monday’s deliberations after the jury reconvened, an alternate was chosen to replace one of the jurors. Just before 3:00 p.m. EST, the jury delivered its verdict, acquitting Houck on both charges.
Mark Houck, a pro-life Catholic father of 7, became the latest victim of an FBI raid and arrest on the morning of Friday September 23 — for supposed “FACE (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances) Act” violations — at his rural home as his children looked on “screaming.”
The arrest and raid stems from an altercation with a Planned Parenthood worker.
According to Mark’s wife Ryan-Marie, a “pro-abortion protester” would verbally harrass Mark's 12-year old son — hurling vulgar and derogatory statements.
When the protestor encroached in the boy's space, Mark defended his son. At that point, “Mark shoved him away from his child, and the guy fell back,” Ryan-Marie recounts.
The protestor was not injured, but he tried to sue Mark Houck for the assault but his case was thrown out of court in the early summer.
WE CANNOT ALLOW THE LEFT TO HARRASS PRO-LIFE ADVOCATES THIS WAY!
It's vital to stand in solidarity with a pro-family and pro-life man being unjustly persecuted - please SIGN & SHARE our message of support now.
In case you hadn't caught on already, the satanic Biden administration is waging war on Christians. https://t.co/E6ChpZVDYW— Michael (X) Knowles ✊ (@michaeljknowles) September 24, 2022
The description of this arrest sounds like it took place in a totalitarian state. A tragic unraveling of Justice in America. https://t.co/e3vEID7E39— Bishop J. Strickland (@Bishopoftyler) September 25, 2022
If convicted, Houck faces up to a maximum of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and fines of up to $350,000, according to the Justice Department.
Additional conservative pro-life leaders have weighed in — this is why we need your support ASAP.
“Just in the last few days we’ve seen some pretty glaring examples of what appear to be instances of DOJ [Department of Justice] overreach. You’ve got a Catholic father of seven who formed a group designed to encourage young men to be faithful to their commitments, arrested in front of his seven children just recently. You’ve got all these instances of overreach. It’s deeply concerning to us all. These are all things we’re gonna be looking into.” — US Senator Mike Lee
Tell the Houck family that you stand by them!
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According to an update published by the Thomas More Society, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley Nicole Martin asked Houck Friday: “You consider it to be a battle, don’t you?”
“A spiritual battle,” Houck responded.
READ: Mark Houck heads to trial in one of the biggest pro-life cases of the century
The Houcks’ testimony follows that of Love, who took the stand Thursday.
According to defense attorneys, Love “admitted” during cross-examination “that Mark’s sidewalk counseling activities were fully legal and proper, and that if Love hadn’t initiated the confrontations, they would not have happened at all.”
Three witnesses called by the prosecution also testified Thursday, according to National Catholic Register. According to the outlet, witnesses affirmed that they saw Houck push Love to the ground and heard the two men argue. Witnesses could not recall exactly what was said, but affirmed that Houck appeared to say something about his son.
On the witness stand, Love denied having spoken to Houck’s son or having made vulgar comments.
In a video update published Thursday night, Andrew Bath, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the Thomas More Society said the government’s prosecution of Houck was “a terrible, horrendous abuse of government power.”
He added that the defense team had “done a terrific job with cross-examinations” on Thursday and were “looking forward to” Friday, when they would “finally get to put on our case for the first time.”
RELATED: Pro-lifers rally outside courthouse as Mark Houck’s trial begins
“We had a good day to day. We cross-examined the escort that provoked two altercations with our client, Mark Houck, and we thought that went very well,” Bath said. He added that other witnesses called to testify by the prosecution actually gave “sensational testimony supporting our case.”
He said that the government rested its case at the end of Thursday’s court proceedings, leaving Friday open for the defense to make its case.
Bath also said that the defense team presented U.S. District Judge Gerald J. Pappert with a motion to dismiss on Thursday, which Pappert took under advisement.
According to National Catholic Register, Pappert asked during an exchange with the prosecuting attorney, “Doesn’t that statute [FACE] seem to be stretched a little thin here?”
“We’ll start the day tomorrow learning the outcome of our motion to dismiss these two felony counts that never should have been charged in the first place. Following that, we’ll put on our witnesses,” Bath said.
Closing arguments by both the prosecution and the defense will follow, after which the judge will send out the jury to deliberate.
READ: Defense attorneys in Mark Houck case bring crucial evidence to light as trial nears final stages
LifeSiteNews previously reported that the defense team said they believed they had gained “significant momentum” on Wednesday, when the CEO of the local Planned Parenthood chapter stated under cross-examination that Love had violated the abortion giant’s own policies when he engaged in his altercations with Houck.
Additionally, attorneys pointed out during Wednesday’s court proceedings that significant security footage is missing that would have shown one of the altercations between Houck and Love.
With Wednesday being the halfway point in the short trial, Thomas More Society senior counsel Michael McHale said he believes the defense team had succeeded in poking holes in “the credibility of the government’s case by showing based on objective evidence that Mr. Love, the so-called escort, was not actually escorting but was actually violating Planned Parenthood policy by antagonizing Mark and his son.”
You can keep up with the updates on the Houck trial by following LifeSiteNews’ coverage as well as developments posted on the Thomas More Society’s website.
Most of all, readers are asked to pray for the legal team representing Houck, as well as for Houck himself, his wife, and their young children.