PHILADELPHIA (LifeSiteNews) — Catholic father of seven and pro-life sidewalk counselor Mark Houck and his young son Mark Jr. are taking the stand Friday in the blockbuster case that many of Houck’s supporters argue is an example of the Biden administration’s persecution of pro-life Americans.
As originally reported by LifeSiteNews, Houck was subjected to a dawn raid by Biden’s FBI last year. The DOJ has 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.
Attorneys with the Thomas More Society who are representing Houck say the local pro-life leader had pushed Love to protect his then-12-year-old son whom Love had been verbally harassing using vulgar language.
The criminal trial, United States v. Mark Houck, began Tuesday in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and is anticipated to wrap up Friday, after Houck and his son present their testimony.
According to an update published by the Thomas More Society, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley Nicole Martin asked Houck Friday: “You consider it to be a battle, don’t you?”
“A spiritual battle,” Houck responded.
The Houcks’ testimony follows that of Love, who took the stand Thursday.
According to defense attorneys, Love “admitted” during cross-examination “that Mark’s sidewalk counseling activities were fully legal and proper, and that if Love hadn’t initiated the confrontations, they would not have happened at all.”
Three witnesses called by the prosecution also testified Thursday, according to National Catholic Register. According to the outlet, witnesses affirmed that they saw Houck push Love to the ground and heard the two men argue. Witnesses could not recall exactly what was said, but affirmed that Houck appeared to say something about his son.
On the witness stand, Love denied having spoken to Houck’s son or having made vulgar comments.
In a video update published Thursday night, Andrew Bath, Executive Vice President and General Counsel of the Thomas More Society said the government’s prosecution of Houck was “a terrible, horrendous abuse of government power.”
He added that the defense team had “done a terrific job with cross-examinations” on Thursday and were “looking forward to” Friday, when they would “finally get to put on our case for the first time.”
“We had a good day to day. We cross-examined the escort that provoked two altercations with our client, Mark Houck, and we thought that went very well,” Bath said. He added that other witnesses called to testify by the prosecution actually gave “sensational testimony supporting our case.”
He said that the government rested its case at the end of Thursday’s court proceedings, leaving Friday open for the defense to make its case.
Bath also said that the defense team presented U.S. District Judge Gerald J. Pappert with a motion to dismiss on Thursday, which Pappert took under advisement.
According to National Catholic Register, Pappert asked during an exchange with the prosecuting attorney, “Doesn’t that statute [FACE] seem to be stretched a little thin here?”
“We’ll start the day tomorrow learning the outcome of our motion to dismiss these two felony counts that never should have been charged in the first place. Following that, we’ll put on our witnesses,” he said.
Closing arguments by both the prosecution and the defense will follow, after which the judge will send out the jury to deliberate.
LifeSiteNews previously reported that the defense team said they believed they had gained “significant momentum” on Wednesday, when the CEO of the local Planned Parenthood chapter stated under cross-examination that Love had violated the abortion giant’s own policies when he engaged in his altercations with Houck.
Additionally, attorneys pointed out during Wednesday’s court proceedings that significant security footage is missing that would have shown one of the altercations between Houck and Love.
With Wednesday being the halfway point in the short trial, Thomas More Society senior counsel Michael McHale said he believes the defense team had succeeded in poking holes in “the credibility of the government’s case by showing based on objective evidence that Mr. Love, the so-called escort, was not actually escorting but was actually violating Planned Parenthood policy by antagonizing Mark and his son.”
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.