New documents bring to light inconsistencies with two key components of the FBI’s charges against Mark Houck, the pro-life activist and father of seven whose home was reportedly raided by federal agents on Sept. 23 and who was subsequently arrested. He allegedly shoved a Planned Parenthood clinic escort.
Houck was charged with two counts of assaulting a reproductive health care clinic escort in violation of the FACE Act, which rules that it is a federal crime to interfere with someone “because that person is a provider of reproductive health care.” Houck’s arrest by numerous federal agents made national headlines, but newly unearthed documents undermine some of the FBI’s charges against him.
Houck was praying near an abortion clinic when Bruce Love, who claims to be a longtime clinic escort, approached him, behaving “extremely aggressively” and harassing his then-12-year-old son. Houck’s attorney, Peter Breen, alleges that Love was not escorting any patients at the time of the altercation.
A copy of Love’s private criminal complaint, first obtained by the Federalist, reveals that Love only mentioned being shoved once in a prior criminal complaint about the incident. Houck’s federal indictment is for two instances of assault. Breen argues that the fact that Love only later mentioned a second shoving undermines the federal government’s decision to charge Houck with two counts of assault.
“Apparently Mr. Love is now claiming a second instance where he says he was knocked to the ground,” Breen said. “That is false. We look forward to some sort of evidence of that alleged other instance because if a crime had actually taken place we assume that Mr. Love would have put it in his private criminal complaint he brought to the Pennsylvania state courts.”
Houck’s other attorney, Matt Heffron, had offered to accept the summons on his client’s behalf, noting that Houck would voluntarily appear in court, in an email to Assistant U.S. Attorney Anita Eve. However, Eve did not respond until the day of the arrest, according to emails obtained by the Federalist.
“When the defendant has a lawyer, a respected former federal prosecutor, offering to bring the deferment wherever the US attorney’s office would like him presented there is no reason to send one agent, much less 20,” Breen said. “The question is why there were a bunch of people with long guns, ballistic shields and body armor outside this peaceful person’s home to effect an arrest warrant that was utterly unnecessary and really put the Houck family in danger.”
Breen also argues that the indictment also makes no mention of patients being present, and their apparent absence undermines the federal government’s use of the FACE Act to prosecute Houck.