These stories need to be told. With a donation to LifeSite today you will join the LifeSiteNews family and continue to make sure stories focused on pro-family, pro-faith and the truth are shared with you. A donation today will leave a legacy for your children, grandchildren and beyond. Don’t let mainstream media silence the importance of pro-life stories.
PHILADELPHIA (LifeSiteNews) — Official court documents in the federal case against pro-life Catholic speaker and father of seven Mark Houck have been released after Houck’s dramatic arrest by heavily-armed FBI agents last week.
The documents include the grant jury indictment against Houck, the arrest warrant, and conditions of release requiring Houck to, among other things, confine his travel within the district and surrender or refrain from obtaining a passport or firearms.
LifeSiteNews broke the now-viral story of Houck’s Friday arrest shortly after it took place. The case has generated national attention and strong backlash from conservative and pro-life commentators and lawmakers.
The arrest stemmed from an alleged altercation between Houck and an abortion clinic “escort” outside a downtown Philadelphia Planned Parenthood abortion facility last year where Houck, a pro-life sidewalk counselor, was protesting along with his then-12-year-old son.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has released a trove of documents associated with the case: United States v. Houck.
Grand jury indictment
Documents made public include the grand jury indictment dated September 20 alleging that Houck twice violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.
The “FACE” Act establishes federal penalties for anyone who uses “force or threat of force” or “physical obstruction” to “injure, intimidate or interfere with any person” who is, has, or is attempting to provide or obtain so-called “reproductive health services,” i.e. abortions. The law also protects pro-life protesters, as well as pregnancy centers and churches from injury, obstruction, or interference.
Houck is accused of two counts of violating the FACE act when he allegedly pushed an abortion facility “escort” (referred to in the filing as “B.L.”) on two separate occasions on October 13, 2021 outside the Planned Parenthood – Elizabeth Blackwell Health Center in Philadelphia (“PPC”).
According to the indictment, the grand jury charges that Houck “shoved B.L. to the ground as B.L. attempted to escort two PPC patients” and in a second instance “verbally confronted B.L. and forcefully shoved B.L. to the ground in front of the PPC, causing injuries to B.L. that required medical attention.”
In the first count, Houck is charged with having:
“by force, intentionally injured, intimidated and interfered with B.L., and attempted to injure, intimidate, and interfere with B.L., because B.L. was and had been providing reproductive health services, and in order to injure, intimidate, and interfere with B.L. from providing reproductive health services.”
For the second count, the indictment uses the same language as the first count, taken from the FACE Act, adding that the alleged additional violation “resulted in bodily injury to B.L.”
Thomas More Society vice president and senior counsel Peter Breen, who spoke on behalf of Houck outside the courthouse Tuesday, argued that B.L. had been behaving in an “extremely aggressive” manner toward Houck and was “harassing” Houck’s son before an “altercation ensued.”
Houck’s wife, Ryan-Marie, told LifeSiteNews that B.L. had been harassing their 12-year-old son by using vulgar language and getting into the boy’s “personal space,” and that Houck had shoved him away to protect his son.
“He didn’t have any injuries or anything, but he tried to sue Mark,” Ryan-Marie told LifeSite, adding that the case was thrown out of court in the summer but picked up again by the Biden administration’s DOJ in what Breen has called a form of “political prosecution.”
Conditions of release
Additional documents released in connection to the case included U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard A. Lloret’s order setting the conditions of Houck’s September 23 release.
In the document, Lloret ordered that Houck be released on $10,000 bail, report to Pretrial Services, surrender or refrain from obtaining a passport, confine his travel to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania unless granted prior permission by Pretrial Services, and “surrender and/or refrain from obtaining any firearms.”
In addition, Houck has been ordered to refrain from any contact with co-defendants or potential witnesses, continue to reside at his home address, and “refrain from engaging in protesting and/or sidewalk counseling” at the Planned Parenthood facility at which the alleged incident took place.
Court records state that the Government and Defense agreed to the conditions of release laid out in the September 23 order.
Warrants for Houck’s arrest
The bench warrant ordering Houck’s arrest was issued September 20 on motion of Jacqueline C. Romero, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and signed by Judge Lloret.
The arrest warrant for the alleged “attack of patient escort” (also dated September 20) was additionally included in the published documents, including written confirmation that Houck was arrested on Friday, September 23.
Representation, plea, and arraignment
An attorney representing Houck, Brian J. McMonagle of Philadelphia law firm McMonagle, Perri, McHugh & Mischak, is recorded to have appeared for Houck on Tuesday, September 27.
A September 28 record of the prior day’s proceedings notes that Houck appeared before Magistrate Judge Elizabeth T. Hey, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to both charges lodged against him, and was arraigned.
Houck’s counsel has been given 14 days to file pretrial motions, according to the court records.
The documents released in connection with the active federal case follow Houck’s traumatic arrest by the FBI in the early morning on September 23.
As LifeSiteNews previously reported, heavily-armed FBI agents surrounded the Houck family’s rural Pennsylvania home early on Friday morning, reportedly traumatizing their seven children before taking Houck into custody.
An FBI spokesperson and senior source confirmed Monday in statements to Fox News Digital that the arrest occurred, and that more than a dozen armed agents went to Houck’s home with their guns drawn. The sources argued, however, that the armed FBI agents weren’t part of a SWAT team, there were no more than 20 agents present, and that they didn’t point their guns directly at Houck or his family.
Regardless, Ryan-Marie told LifeSite the agents “had big, huge rifles pointed at Mark and pointed at me and kind of pointed throughout the house.”
“The kids were all just screaming,” she said. “It was all just very scary and traumatic.”
The felony charges lodged against Houck could lead to up to 11 years in prison and fines totaling as much as $350,000. A GiveSendGo fundraiser set up for the Houck family has reached over $300,000 in donations.
Follow LifeSiteNews’ ongoing reporting on Mark Houck HERE.