An online fundraising campaign for the family had garnered more than $126,000 as of Sunday night, considerably exceeding its original $30,000 target.
A federal assault accusation against Mark Houck, the founder and co-president of The King’s Men, a men’s ministry, stems from a confrontation with a Planned Parenthood escort outside an abortion facility in Philadelphia about a year ago.
According to a family spokesperson, Brian Middleton, Houck, who often prays the rosary outside the clinic, insists that he was protecting his 12-year-old son from the escort’s verbal abuse. Houck shoved the guy away, and the man collapsed, according to Middleton.
The fight was documented on a video that the Houcks are looking for, Middleton said. The family had not yet engaged a lawyer as of Sunday, but they anticipate doing so on Monday, he added.
The escort submitted a private criminal complaint in Philadelphia municipal court after the city police and the district attorney decided not to press charges against Houck, according to Middleton.
When the individual failed to appear in court on many occasions, the matter was dropped in July, according to Middleton.
Days later, the U.S. Attorney’s Office sent Houck a “target letter” telling him that he was the subject of an investigation into the same event, according to Middleton.
Houck attempted to speak with the U.S. Attorney’s Office at the time via his lawyer, but Middleton claimed he never heard back.
The following communication came on Friday morning, he stated.
Around 7 a.m. on September 23, federal law enforcement personnel showed up in front of the Houcks’ house in Kintnersville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Houck’s wife, Ryan-Marie Houck, told CNA on Friday, barely hours after her husband’s arrest, “A SWAT team of approximately 25 arrived to my home with around 15 cars and began knocking on our door.”
If he didn’t open it, they threatened to break in. Then, she said, “they had approximately five guns pointing at my husband, myself, and essentially at my kids.
Middleton observed that “they were aiming their firearms.” “They entered as though they were anticipating a conflict of some kind.”
If found guilty, 11 years in jail
According to the FBI, Houck was taken into custody “without incident” outside his home on Friday morning. According to a news statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Houck is accused of breaking the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or FACE Act for short.
According to the federal indictment, on October 13, 2021, Houck repeatedly attacked a 72-year-old man who was serving as a patient escort at a Planned Parenthood facility in Philadelphia at 1144 Locust St. The escort, known only by its initials B.L., was trying to accompany two patients when Houck first punched B.L. to the ground, according to the indictment.
The indictment claims that on the same day, Houck “verbally challenged” and “forcefully pushed” B.L. to the ground in front of the clinic.
According to the indictment, B.L. was hurt and required medical care. The Houck family’s spokesperson, Middleton, argues that the damage was minimal and just required “a Bandaid on his finger.”
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Houck may be sentenced to up to 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $350,000 if found guilty.
The Department of Justice states that the FACE Act “prohibits aggressive, threatening, destructive and obstructive behavior designed to harm, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, access, or deliver reproductive health care” (DOJ).
Houck and his family are well-known in the Philadelphia region, according to Middleton.
The Houcks are amazing individuals, I must say. Mark lives a life of ministry, the man said. Actually, this is the household next door.
Middleton conjectured that a large portion of the fund’s donors thought the FBI arrested Houck with “unnecessary force”
He noted the contrast between the aggressive tactics used against Houck and the lack of any arrests by the FBI in connection with the dozens of incidents of vandalism against pro-life pregnancy centers across the country in recent months. He said the raid may fuel further criticism that the Biden administration’s Justice Department has a double standard when it comes to abortion politics.