Acquitted Pro-Life Activist Mark Houck Sues DOJ Over Threatening, Armed Raid and Retaliatory Prosecution

Evan Poellinger | November 9, 2023
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Pro-Life Activist Mark Houck has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) over its excessively forceful arrest of the activist and the allegedly retaliatory nature of his prosecution for an alleged violation of the FACE Act, for which he was ultimately acquitted.

Houck is currently seeking $1.1 million in damages from the DOJ after a team of agents “wielding battering rams, ballistic shields, helmets, armored vests, and long guns” arrested Houck - even after state authorities refused to file charges against him.

According to the claim filed by the Houcks, the arrest and prosecution represented the climax of an earlier incident in which Houck was forced to defend himself from a pro-abortion activist who was harassing him and his then-12-year-old son.

On October 13, 2021, Houck and his son were engaging in prayer and sidewalk counseling across the street from a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia. During that time, Houck and his son were harassed on two separate occasions by Bruce Love, a Planned Parenthood volunteer who “had often showed hostility throughout the years.”

This was in direct contradiction to Planned Parenthood’s training manual for volunteers instructing them not to “engage with or antagonize” pro-life counselors. Love “had received this training and had previously been counseled for violating this edict.” After escorting Love away and demanding that he leave him and his son alone, Love again quickly moved back towards Houck, who, “fearing for his son’s safety, pushed Mr. Love away in order to keep Mr. Love from accosting his son yet again.”

Love filed a criminal complaint against Houck, but the complaint was dismissed after Love failed to appear in court.

However, Houck alleges that the DOJ later served him a target letter offering to speak with Houck’s attorney, to which Houck’s attorney “responded by outlining the reasons a FACE Act prosecution was entirely unfounded, but also offered to voluntarily surrender Mr. Houck in the event of an indictment. The DOJ never responded.”

Houck alleges that the DOJ then conducted “a corrupted investigation that included, on information and belief, the presentation of a series of objectively false facts,” including that Houck initiated the encounter and pushed Love to intimidate him, neither of which was true and which security camera footage of the incident contradicted.

Nonetheless, the DOJ made the decision to arrest Houck in a raid that occurred before sunrise and during which “Government agents aimed rifles and handguns at Mr. Houck from his porch and from behind vehicles in his yard and driveway. They also aimed their weapons at Mrs. Houck.”

This was done in spite of the earlier offer made by Houck’s attorney to facilitate his surrender, and even though “Mr. Houck had no firearms of any kind in the house or on his property and had none registered, all of which should have been known to the arresting officers.”

The claim also says that, despite his cooperation, Houck was unnecessarily chained and handcuffed, causing him to sustain injuries:

“The FBI further degraded Mr. Houck during the booking period. Despite his total cooperation, the officers forced him to walk in chains and handcuffs to the U.S. Marshal’s service. They used intimidation tactics throughout the booking process. As Mr. Houck was forced to shuffle along in his chains, the foot shackles dug into his ankles, leaving scrapes and cuts in his flesh.”

The damages Houck alleges include the stress and emotional trauma inflicted on his family as a result of the arrest and the trauma of the arrest to Houck’s wife which, he says, has taken “such a significant toll that she had three miscarriages from the stress. Doctors have now diagnosed her with infertility.” Houck’s children have also exhibited symptoms of trauma as a result of the arrest, including “severe sleep deprivation and nightmares.”

No amount of money could ever undo the harm inflicted by the DOJ to the Houck family. Nonetheless, if his lawsuit proves successful, it will demonstrate that the Biden administration and its politicized institutional assets can, in some measure, be held accountable.