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PHILADELPHIA (LifeSiteNews) — Mark Houck, the pro-life Catholic author, leader, and father of seven who was arrested by the FBI in a dawn raid Friday morning, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the federal charges lodged against him.
LifeSiteNews broke the now-viral story of Houck’s Friday arrest by the FBI. The arrest stemmed from an alleged altercation between Houck and an abortion facility employee outside a downtown Philadelphia Planned Parenthood last year, where Houck was praying with his 12-year-old son.
Prosecutors allege Houck, the founder and president of The King’s Men, which promotes healing for victims of pornography addiction and promotes Christian virtues among men, violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act when he allegedly pushed an abortion clinic employee twice in one day in October 2021.
The FACE Act makes it a felony to use force to intimidate, injure, or obstruct pro-life or pro-abortion protestors or abortion facility workers, or to obstruct or destroy abortion facilities or pro-life pregnancy centers.
Houck pleaded not guilty to two counts September 27 in a Philadelphia federal court, Fox News reported.
The pro-life leader’s wife Ryan-Marie told LifeSiteNews on Friday the abortion facility worker 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 said, adding that the case was thrown out of court in the summer.
On Tuesday, Houck’s attorney, Thomas More Society vice president and senior counsel Peter Breen, backed up Ryan-Marie’s account of the October incident.
Speaking outside the courthouse, Breen said that the abortion worker in question had been “extremely aggressive” and was “harassing” Houck’s son before an “altercation ensued,” Fox reported.
Breen explained that the case against his client had been tossed out of the state courts but was picked up again by the Biden administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) almost a full year later.
“This is a political prosecution,” Breen said. “And what’s clear from the Department of Justice at its highest levels, which is directing this case, [is] that they are trying to send a message to pro-life and people of faith: ‘Don’t 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,” the attorney said.” And that’s not going to happen.”
Speaking about the roughly 20 FBI agents who arrived, guns drawn, to Houck’s home Friday morning, Breen argued the Biden administration’s DOJ treated Houck “as if he was a drug lord or a mafia boss.”
“If he was truly a danger to the community, they wouldn’t have waited a year to prosecute,” he said. “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?”
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.
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!
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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
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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. They sought to deny aspects of the report, however, arguing 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.”
Mark Houck was released from custody later on Friday after his morning arrest. The father of seven young children faces felony charges that could lead to up to 11 years in prison and fines totaling as much as $350,000.
A GiveSendGo fundraiser has been set up for the Houck family and has reached over $270,000 in donations.