Hutchins told CNA that he was praying that Houck would “receive justice” and compared the pro-life advocate to Rosa Parks, the civil rights activist who refused to give up her bus seat to a white man.
Also in attendance was Jack O’Brien, 87, who has worked on behalf of the unborn with The King’s Men in the past.
Calling the FACE Act “phony” and an “obscenity,” O’Brien said: “We think the charges are going to be dismissed.”
Ryan-Marie Houck, Houck’s wife, told CNA at the courthouse that the couple prayed before the Blessed Sacrament at eucharistic adoration all through the night on Jan. 23 in preparation for the trial, which is set to begin Jan. 25 at 9 a.m.
Brendan Whitaker, a Catholic and supporter of Houck who was also at the courthouse, told CNA that he was one of 40-50 people who joined the Houcks in prayer at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Sellersville, Pennsylvania.
Whitaker, of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, said that about 25 people stayed and prayed past midnight and mentioned that the group prayed at least three rosaries and some other scriptural prayers.
Some of Houck’s siblings were present at the court, along with members of his wife’s family. The couple’s children were not there.
The Houcks’ teenage son, Mark Houck Jr., will, however, be taking the witness stand during the trial.
Houck is being represented by a legal team of four attorneys: Brian McMonagle of McMonagle, Perri, McHugh, Mischak & Davis; Peter Breen, Thomas More Society executive vice president and head of litigation; Michael McHale, Thomas More Society senior counsel; and Andrew Bath, Thomas More Society executive vice president and general counsel.
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Representing the Department of Justice (DOJ) is Anita Eve from the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania; Ashley Martin, also from the U.S. attorney’s office; and Sanjay Patel from the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, criminal section in Washington, D.C.
Gerald Pappert is the presiding judge. Pappert said on Tuesday that jury deliberations could begin as early as Thursday.
See more photos from the rally below.
Joseph Bukuras is a journalist at the Catholic News Agency. Joe has prior experience working in state and federal government, in non-profits, and Catholic education. He has contributed to an array of publications and his reporting has been cited by leading news sources, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the Catholic University of America. He is based out of the Boston area.