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Mark Houck celebrates his acquittal outside the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on January 30Vimeo/Screenshot

PHILADELPHIA (LifeSiteNews) — Pro-life activist and Catholic father of seven Mark Houck said he was “so grateful” after he was found not guilty Monday of both federal charges lodged against him over a 2021 sidewalk altercation outside an abortion clinic.

“I’m just so grateful for the men that [God] has surrounded me with,” Houck told reporters outside the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Monday, throwing his arms around the members of his legal defense team who helped him present his side of the case during the brief trial. 

He also expressed gratitude for his family, who stood outside the courthouse with him.

“I’m George Bailey today,” Houck said, a reference to Jimmy Stewart’s character in the classic Frank Capra film It’s a Wonderful Life.

Houck Trial: Post-Verdict Press Conference, January 30, 2023 from Thomas More Society on Vimeo.

Asked by a reporter whether the case ever should have been brought at all, Houck deflected to his attorneys, saying he’s just “grateful” that “justice” was “finally served.”

Peter Breen, the Thomas More Society executive vice president and head of litigation, answered the question for Houck, remarking that “from day one, this case has been an intimidation tactic by the Biden Department of Justice.”

“We had put forward a very strong legal case why it should have never reached trial, and then what the jury heard in there was the factual case why Mark was totally innocent of these charges,” Breen continued. “This matter is one that never should’ve gotten the attention of the Department of Justice.”

“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,” Breen said. 

“And I hope, again, that this will be one of those points where a change is made. And so no one else will have to suffer the same way that Mark and his family have had to suffer,” he added.

Outside the courthouse, Houck prayed along with his family, legal team, and pro-life supporters, referencing Matthew 19:26 in affirming that with God and through the power of prayer “we can do anything.”

As previously reported by LifeSiteNews, Houck’s acquittal comes after he and his family were subjected to a dawn raid by Biden’s FBI last year, with dozens of heavily armed agents swarming the Houcks’ Pennsylvania property. 

The DOJ 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.

READ: Mark Houck acquitted on both charges in major pro-life victory

Houck’s criminal trial, United States v. Mark Houck, began Tuesday.

During the trial, attorneys with the Thomas More Society successfully made the case that the Catholic sidewalk counselor and father pushed abortion “escort” Love simply to protect his then-12-year-old son from the verbally abusive abortion clinic volunteer.

The federal government attempted to claim that Houck violated all elements of the FACE Act because he had undeniably pushed Love, as evidenced by video footage; that he did so to stop him from his work as an abortion “escort”; and that he was motivated to do so because he “had had enough” of Love performing his function, according to reporting by Catholic News Agency journalist Joe Bukuras.

However, Houck consistently stated that he simply pushed the “escort” “because he was harassing my 12-year-old boy.”

Monday’s verdict came after a tense weekend wait following a deadlocked jury on Friday.

When the jury reconvened Monday morning, they engaged in hours of deliberation before an alternate was chosen to replace one of the jurors. The jury delivered its verdict in mid-afternoon, acquitting Houck on both charges.