On Sept. 23, 2022, the day of her husband’s arrest, Ryan-Marie Houck was standing in the front doorway speaking with federal agents who apprehended her husband.
At the time, Ryan-Marie Houck told CNA that “a SWAT team of about 25 came to my house with about 15 vehicles and started pounding on our door,” adding that “they said they were going to break in if he didn’t open it. And then they had about five guns pointed at my husband, myself, and basically at my kids.”
The FBI’s Philadelphia office disputed her account, saying: “There are inaccurate claims being made regarding the arrest of Mark Houck” and that no SWAT team was involved in the arrest.
Ryan-Marie told CNA Feb. 9 that the raid on her home is “the scariest thing obviously, to happen to me in my life so far. I was very shocked.”
“My first thought was that they were there to take my children away because I’m a homeschool mom. And this is just always in the back of your mind,” she said.
She said she even wondered if the FBI had arrived at the wrong house.
“It was just a traumatic, crazy day. It’s still kind of surreal to talk about it, almost like it happened to someone else,” she said.
When her husband returned home from the courthouse the same day, she said her whole family was “greatly relieved” and that she “collapsed in his arms and was crying” as soon as she saw him.
“The kids also ran to him crying,” she said.
A ‘financial burden’ lifted and inspirational support
After news of Mark Houck’s arrest broke, a GiveSendGo — a crowdfunding platform — was set up for the family by someone unrelated to the family, and by the time of the trial, it had raised over $400,000.
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“It was a great relief to have that financial burden lifted, as Mark wasn’t able to travel as much and take certain jobs,” she said, adding that it “definitely affected us on a financial level.”
Mark Houck runs a Catholic men’s ministry called The King’s Men, which encourages men to become leaders, protectors, and providers for their families by striving for virtue.
She called the support from all over the world “overwhelming” and said that she “felt like we may have read every single note to us because it was very calming and life-giving.”
“We would read it at night, just the two of us, and see what people have written to us. And it inspired us.”
The long months of court proceedings leading up to the trial were “very exhausting,” she said, noting that the trial became a particular challenge for her children who were present, as they were brought to tears by what took place.
“So, of course, we kept them out of the courtroom. And that was really hard. I don’t think I’ve spent that much time away from especially my littles ever,” she said.