A deadlocked jury will reconvene Monday in the case against a Pennsylvania pro-life activist who faces up to 11 years in prison for allegedly pushing a Planned Parenthood escort during a clash outside an abortion clinic.
Mark Houck, 48, was arrested by the FBI last September outside his family at his home in rural Kintnersville, Pennsylvania, on charges of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act during an altercation with the escort in Philadelphia in October 2021
Houck pleaded not guilty to violating FACE statute, which prohibits “violent, threatening, harmful and obstructive behavior intended to violate, intimidate or interfere with the right to seek, receive or provide reproductive health services “.
Houck, a Catholic who routinely took part in prayer protests outside of abortion clinics, was accused of pushing 72-year-old Bruce Love after the escort allegedly yelled at Houck’s 12-year-old son. Both Houck and his son testified at the trial last week.
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Bill Devlin, a pastor who has worked with Houck for more than 20 years and attends his trials, told the Christian Post last week that when Houck’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss, he heard Judge Gerald Pappert say, “It seems to me that the US government extends the statute of the FACE Act.”
“We are deep brothers in faith and I have come along to vindicate and support him because the presumption of innocence applies until the government can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mark Houck violated the Freedom of Access to Clinics Act,” he said Devlin told the outlet.
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Shortly after Houck’s arrest last fall, his attorney Peter Breen told Fox News Digital his client’s arrest was an “egregious abuse of power” by the Justice Department aimed at intimidating pro-life Americans.
“The message from the Biden Department of Justice is pure intimidation against pro-life people and people of faith,” said Breen, senior counsel of the Thomas More Society. “Why on earth would you send that phalanx of heavily armed officers to this family’s home, violate the sanctity of their home, scare their children? Why would you do that other than just to send a message?
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“We are dealing with the full power of the US government and the highest levels of the Justice Department,” the attorney added. “I don’t know if the Attorney General personally authorized the raid, but his top lieutenants did if he didn’t do it himself.”
The FBI referred Fox News Digital to an earlier statement made by its Philadelphia office last fall regarding Houck, which countered that “incorrect allegations” were being made regarding his arrest.
“FBI agents knocked on Mr. Houck’s front door, identified themselves as an FBI agent, and ordered him to leave the apartment,” the statement said. “He did so and was taken into custody according to one charge without incident.
“Before the delivery of a federal order, extensive planning takes place. The FBI then uses such personnel and tactics as deemed necessary to conduct a secure arrest or search,” the FBI Philadelphia added.
“While it is standard FBI practice not to discuss such operational specifics, we can say that the number of employees and vehicles widely reported to be on the scene Friday is an exaggeration and that of the FBI Tactics used by staff were professional and consistent with standard practice, and is intended to ensure the safety of all present inside and outside the residence.”
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The FBI also noted that it is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of suspects involved in the attacks on reproductive health facilities, which include life crisis pregnancy centers.