The trial could be one of the most significant in the post-Roe pro-life movement – but it should never have happened. It’s a cruel persecution carried out by an administration that has weaponized its federal powers to target pro-life conservative Americans.
On Saturday, I had the chance to speak with Peter Breen, the lead attorney in the upcoming trial. Breen, who’s with the bulldoggish conservative legal group the Thomas More Society, explained the anticipated structure of the trial, set to conclude on Friday, and talked about some of the difficult and important work of compiling all the necessary information and building up a solid defense.
The team has a strong case, and they’re confident in it. But they also know that much rests on the grace of God, and they humbly ask for your fervent prayers.
It’s a critical legal battle — one that Breen suggested is among the biggest pro-life cases of the century, and certainly the largest in the new post-Roe era.
UPDATE (01/30/23): Mark Houck has been AQUITTED on both charges!
Thanks be to God that 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!
SIGN: We stand with pro-life Catholic dad of 7 raided by Biden’s FBI
Please share this petition widely. Let's stand in solidarity with Mark Houck and his family.
The outright persecution of pro-life Christians in modern-day America
By now, most LifeSiteNews readers are probably well aware of Houck’s story, which was broken by LifeSite reporter Patrick Delaney and swiftly earned a place front-and-center in the national news cycle.
As LifeSite reported at the time, heavily armed FBI agents surrounded the Houck family’s rural Pennsylvania home in the early morning on September 23, 2022, terrorizing their seven children before taking Houck into custody.
The arrest stemmed from an alleged altercation between Houck and an abortion clinic “escort” outside a downtown Philadelphia Planned Parenthood abortion facility last year when Houck, a pro-life sidewalk counselor, was protesting the murder of unborn babies along with his then-12-year-old son.
The federal government under the vehemently anti-life Biden administration allege that Houck assaulted the employee, Bruce Love. But Houck’s attorney and wife say he pushed the man to protect his son, whom the man had been repeatedly “harassing” over the span of several weeks using “crude … inappropriate and disgusting” language.
Houck now faces two felony charges of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which could lead to up to 11 years in prison and fines totaling as much as $350,000. He has been ordered to surrender or refrain from obtaining a passport or firearms as a condition of his release on $10,000 bail.
Houck has pleaded not guilty to both charges lodged against him.
This trial should never have begun
The fact that a God-fearing, patriotic husband and father can be raided by federal law enforcement and charged with multiple felonies because he was advocating for life outside of an abortion mill and then protected his young son from a pro-death abortion worker is nothing short of appalling.
It’s especially horrendous when we consider that the raid on Houck (which was followed up with a similar raid against another Catholic pro-life dad, Paul Vaughn), came amid a stunning lack of serious law enforcement action against the pro-abortion radicals who vandalized pregnancy centers and threatened pro-life counselors in the lead-up and aftermath of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Center case that resulted in the landmark overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Moreover, there is crucial evidence to suggest that whatever scuffle ensued between Houck and Mr. Love has nothing whatsoever to do with the FACE Act, and therefore should never have been a matter for the federal government.
As Thomas More Society public relations president Tom Ciesielka wrote in a January 18 piece published by LifeSiteNews (and which Breen affirmed to me in a phone conversation Saturday), new evidence uncovered by the conservative legal team suggests that the Biden administration’s goons may have no case at all against Houck.
As Ciesielka wrote, “when the United States Congress passed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, it expressly intended to exclude so-called ‘escorts’ operating outside of abortion facilities from being encompassed by the FACE Act.”
In court transcripts reviewed by the Thomas More Society, Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, chief sponsor of the FACE Act, said unambiguously that “Demonstrators, clinic defenders, escorts, and other persons not involved in obtaining or providing services in the facility may not bring such a cause of action.”
Could it be more clear?
‘I think we’re right’
Breen said that after their findings with regard to the FACE Act were brought before the court, the Biden administration was given a chance to respond — something they never did.
He said that while most of his experience is in civil, rather than criminal, law, he couldn’t “remember the last time a judge offered” the U.S. Justice Department “the opportunity to respond, and they didn’t take it.”
“What does that indicate to you?” I asked.
Breen laughed. “Well, I think we’re right.”
LifeSiteNews will be reporting on the Mark Houck trial to bring readers the latest updates. Those interested are also invited to go to 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.