“They were pointing their weapons,” Middleton said. “They came in as if they were expecting some kind of confrontation.”
11 years in prison if convicted
The FBI told CNA that Houck was arrested outside his residence Friday morning “without incident.” In a press release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said that Houck is being charged with a violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, more commonly referred to as the FACE Act.
The federal indictment says that Houck twice assaulted a 72-year-old man who was a patient escort at a Planned Parenthood clinic at 1144 Locust St. in Philadelphia on Oct. 13, 2021. Houck first shoved the escort, identified by the initials B.L., to the ground as B.L was attempting to escort two patients, the indictment says. Houck also “verbally confronted” and “forcefully shoved” B.L. to the ground in front of the clinic on the same day, the indictment says.
The indictment says that B.L. was injured and needed medical attention. Middleton, the Houck family spokesman, maintains the injury was minor, only requiring “a Band-Aid on his finger.”
If convicted, Houck could face up to 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $350,000, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The FACE Act “prohibits violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain or provide reproductive health services,” according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Middleton said Houck and his family are well-known in the Philadelphia area.
“The Houcks are incredible people. Mark’s whole life is a ministry,” he said. “This is really the family next door.”
Middleton speculated that many of those contributing to the fund believe the FBI used “unnecessary force” in arresting Houck.
He said the raid may fuel further criticism that the Biden administration’s Justice Department has a double standard where abortion politics are concerned, noting the contrast between the aggressive tactics used against Houck and the lack of any arrests by the FBI in connection with dozens of incidents of vandalism against pro-life pregnancy centers across the country in recent months.
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CNA reporter Joe Bukuras contributed to this story.