Composite screenshot of EWTN YouTube video (pictured: Mark Houck)
© 2023 Blaze Media LLC. All rights reserved.
Mark Houck, a devout Catholic, husband, and father of seven, has filed two lawsuits against Joe Biden's Department of Justice and FBI, seeking millions in damages, after armed federal agents raided Houck's home a year ago in connection with his pro-life work.
In the early morning hours of Sept. 23, 2022, just as Mark, his wife, Ryan-Marie Houck, and their children were preparing for breakfast, approximately 20 FBI agents arrived at their home in rural Bucks County, Pennsylvania, armed "with battering rams, ballistic shields, armor, and long rifles," according to the Federalist, looking to arrest Mark. Mark walked outside with his hands up, while his wife and children looked on in horror.
"The children stood on the stairs screaming, crying, and watching in terror as heavily armed agents hauled their father away," said a notice for one of the lawsuits.
The Houcks' eldest son attempted to shield his siblings from the ugly sight, while one of the younger boys wailed, "Please don’t take him he is my best friend," Ryan-Marie later wrote in a complaint. Ryan-Marie and the children were also in physical danger when they made appearances in the doorway while agents had weapons drawn.
"Any bullet that missed Mr. Houck could have struck Mrs. Houck or her children, who were stirring throughout the house and had gathered behind her on the staircase. The entire family was located directly downrange," Ryan-Marie's complaint continued.
This show of "excessive force," according to the lawsuit notices, seemed to be entirely unnecessary since the Houcks owned no guns and Mark Houck had already told federal agents that he would willingly turn himself in peacefully.
The arrest stemmed from a relatively unremarkable incident outside a Philadelphia abortion facility the year before. Houck frequently prays outside the facility and attempts to counsel pregnant women on the sidewalk.
In October 2021, Houck and his 12-year-old son had been peacefully praying the rosary outside the facility. An abortion escort named Bruce Love was also at the facility that day and started to become aggressive with the pro-lifers, hurling "multiple verbal assaults," according to Life News.
Then Love got into the boy's face, prompting Houck to shove him away. Love, described as "elderly," fell to the ground. Security footage indicated that Love suffered an injury to the elbow from the fall.
Local police never filed charges in the incident, and a court later dismissed a suit filed by Love. Yet the DOJ nonetheless pursued Houck over the minor shove, accusing him of having violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.
Houck pled not guilty to the charges, claiming he acted to protect his son. Thankfully, he was acquitted of all charges in January. He faced up to 11 years in federal prison if he had been convicted.
In the lawsuits, Houck is seeking more than $4.3 million in total damages for what Peter Breen, Houck's attorney, described as federal agents' "obscene show of force" against a peaceful man and his family.
"The FBI targeted Mr. Houck for indictment without probable cause because of his beliefs, his public prayer and speech, and the fact that he is a counselor associated with a crisis pregnancy center," said a notice.
The notice also stated that "DOJ leadership" has referred to pro-life "services" as "'fake' and 'predatory' upon abortion rights." It went on to claim that the prosecution of Houck was "malicious and retaliatory."
Not only have the Houcks' children suffered trauma and recurring nightmares over the raid, but Ryan-Marie has endured three miscarriages since the incident. The Houck family blames those miscarriages, and the couple's subsequent diagnosis of infertility, on "the stress of these events."
Shawn Carney, president of 40 Days for Life, stands by the Houcks in their fight against federal intrusion on their deeply held beliefs. "This is more than just a lawsuit," Carney said. "It’s a resounding declaration that the era of targeting individuals for their pro-life stance is over."
The DOJ did not respond to Fox News' request for comment.
Like Blaze News? Bypass the censors, sign up for our newsletters, and get stories like this direct to your inbox. Sign up here!
Want to leave a tip?
We answer to you. Help keep our content free of advertisers and big tech censorship by leaving a tip today.
Sr. Editor, News
Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News.