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


PHILADELPHIA (LifeSiteNews) — The jury in the blockbuster pro-life trial of Mark Houck, a Catholic sidewalk counselor and father of seven who was subjected to an FBI raid and charged with two felonies for pushing an abortion “escort” who attorneys say had been harassing Houck’s 12-year-old son, delivered its verdict Monday, finding Houck not guilty on both charges.

If he had been found guilty, Houck would have faced 11 years behind bars and a $350,000 fine.

In a Monday press release, Thomas More Society Executive Vice President & Head of Litigation Peter Breen said the defense team is “of course, thrilled with the outcome.”

“Mark and his family are now free of the cloud that the Biden administration threw upon them. We took on the Goliath – the full might of the United States government – and won. The jury saw through and rejected the prosecution’s discriminatory case, which was harassment from day one. The Biden Department of Justice’s intimidation against pro-life people and people of faith has been put in its place.”

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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.

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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.

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. 

Thank you. 

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.

The jury reconvened Monday morning, launching into several hours of deliberations before an alternate was chosen to replace one of the jurors. The jury delivered its verdict just before 3:00 p.m. EST, acquitting Houck on both charges.

As originally reported by LifeSiteNews, Houck was subjected to a dawn raid by Biden’s FBI last year, with dozens of heavily armed agents swarming the family’s 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.

RELATED: Mark Houck, 13-year-old son testify ahead of jury deliberations in pro-life case of the century

Houck’s criminal trial, United States v. Mark Houck, began Tuesday in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

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, whom Love had been verbally harassing using vulgar language.

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, the defense team presented evidence earlier in the trial indicating that the FACE Act was never intended to cover abortion “escorts.” Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, chief sponsor of the legislation, had clearly stated 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.”

Defense attorney Brian McMonagle, who is working in tandem with the Thomas More Society, also told the jury during his Friday closing argument that Houck had “a right to be on that sidewalk” and argued that the case centers around the First Amendment, according to Bukuras’ reporting.

McMonagle noted that, as previously reported by LifeSiteNews, the Planned Parenthood “escort” manual explicitly forbids “escorts” from engaging in altercations with protesters. He also observed that the CEO of the local Planned Parenthood chapter wanted Love pulled from his rotation because of his failures to abide by the policy.

READ: Defense attorneys in Mark Houck case bring crucial evidence to light as trial nears final stages

Pointing out that the Biden administration’s DOJ didn’t take up the case until a year after it occurred, McMonagle said “you’re darn right” the prosecution of Houck “has to do with politics,” per Bukuras’ reporting.

According to McMonagle, Mr. Love “set in motion a chain of events that now jeopardizes that young man’s dad [pointing to Mark Jr.], and you know it.”

In a 60 second video segment shared to social media, prominent pro-life leader Priests for Life founder Frank Pavone reacted to the news by congratulating Houck and his legal team.

“Congratulations, Mark, congratulations to the entire pro-life movement, congratulations St. Thomas More Society for the legal defense, Peter Breen, Tom Brejcha, all our friends there,” Pavone said.

“Forward we go to more victories,” he added.

Developing. Check back for updates.





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