The Dispatch: More from CWR...

Acquitted pro-life activist Mark Houck reveals details of ‘reckless’ FBI raid; will press charges

After being acquitted of federal charges by a jury in Philadelphia on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023, Mark Houck embraces and kisses his wife, Ryan-Marie Houck. Also with Houck are his son Mark Houck Jr., 14, and his daughter, Ava Houck, 12. / Joe Bukuras/CNA

Boston, Mass., Feb 1, 2023 / 13:31 pm (CNA).

Mark Houck, the pro-life father of seven who was acquitted Monday in federal court of charges of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, said he is planning to sue the FBI and other authorities following his ordeal.

On a Jan. 31 episode of the podcast “War Room,” the host, Steve Bannon, asked Houck: “Do you intend to press charges for prosecutorial abuse? And are you going to press charges against the FBI agents and the state troopers?”

“We most definitely will and we will be seeking counsel on that,” Houck responded.

Houck was arrested Sept. 23, 2022, following a federal indictment alleging two violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, commonly referred to as the FACE Act.

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.”

At the time of the arrest, Houck’s wife, 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.” She added: “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 allegations in the case were related to two incidents that took place on Oct. 13, 2021, at a Philadelphia abortion clinic, where Houck has been a longtime pro-life sidewalk counselor. The federal indictment alleged that Houck twice shoved an abortion clinic escort, Bruce Love, once when Love was attempting to escort clients and again during a verbal altercation with Love in front of the clinic.

The prosecution argued that Houck pushed Love because he was trying to interfere with his provision of reproductive health services. Houck said he pushed Love because he was just trying to protect his 12-year-old son who was being harassed by Love. A 12-person jury unanimously found Houck not guilty of both counts of violating the FACE Act on Monday.

After news of his acquittal broke, several supporters of Houck called for legal action against the Justice Department.

Until Monday, Houck himself had not made any public statements on the nature of his arrest, but he went into more detail on the podcast.

‘I have seven babies in here’

Houck said that a local criminal complaint against him in Philadelphia Municipal Court “went nowhere” and added that he was soon notified that he was the target of a grand jury investigation.

He said his lawyers at the time said that they would peacefully bring Houck in for questioning from authorities if needed.

“The next thing I know, I had 20-plus federal agents and state troopers banging on my door at 6:45 in the morning on Sept. 23, Friday morning,” he said.

Houck said he was awake, but his wife and kids were asleep. He said the FBI “repeatedly” rang the doorbell and banged on the door saying “open up.’”

Houck said that the authorities did not identify themselves while banging on the door.

He described the FBI’s tactics as “recklessness” and an “act of terror.”

Houck asked if the authorities would identify themselves before he opened the door, which they did.

“To which I replied, ‘Okay, I’m gonna open the door. Stay calm. I have seven babies in here,’ which were stirring at the time, but I didn’t know they were awake,” he said.

Houck said he opened the door and showed them his hands.

“As I opened the door, I could not believe the circus scene that I saw,” he said.

There were “at least 10, 15 marked and unmarked units right in front of me. Surrounding the side of my house, I have 100 yards to the street, cars lined all the way up to the street, long guns pointed at me, heavily armored vests, ballistic helmets, ballistic shields, a battering ram,” he said.

He said his daughter “took note” of an FBI agent in the back of the house, and there were at least five federal agents on his porch “with M-16s pointed at me and now my wife as she entered the opening of the door.”

“I opened the door and I said, ‘What are you doing here?’”

“They said, ‘You know why we’re here,’” Houck said.

“And then I said, ‘Oh, I know why you’re here. You’re here because I rescue babies,’” he said.

Houck said that he looked at all of the agents and said, “You wouldn’t be here if the Trump administration was in the White House.”

He said that the agents did not respond but just looked at him.

Ryan-Marie Houck asked if they had a warrant for his arrest, Houck said, adding that the FBI responded, “We’re taking him with or without a warrant.”

Ryan-Marie told CNA at the time of the arrest that she was handed the warrant after she asked for it.

Houck said that when he was arrested, his children were screaming, he had on flip-flops, a pair of shorts, a T-shirt, and was not wearing underwear.

Houck said that the agents did not let him put on underwear, brush his teeth, or put deodorant on. They did allow him to take his rosary, he said.

“It was reckless that day,” Houck said. “I’m so surprised that someone wasn’t shot or I wasn’t shot.”

“[If] my kids picked up one of our airsoft guns that they play around with they easily could have been shot,” he said, adding that this was “extremely reckless behavior on the part of the federal government.”

In September 2022, the FBI issued a statement disputing details in the reports of Houck’s arrest.

“There are inaccurate claims being made regarding the arrest of Mark Houck,” the FBI’s Philadelphia office said in a statement.

“No SWAT Team or SWAT operators were involved. FBI agents knocked on Mr. Houck’s front door, identified themselves as FBI agents, and asked him to exit the residence. He did so and was taken into custody without incident pursuant to an indictment,” the statement continued.

At the time, an FBI spokesman declined to answer CNA’s questions about the number of law enforcement personnel at the scene and whether any drew their weapons and pointed them at the family.

“Extensive planning takes place prior to the service of any federal warrant. The FBI then employs the personnel and tactics deemed necessary to effect a safe arrest or search,” the statement said.

“While it’s the FBI’s standard practice not to discuss such operational specifics, we can say that the number of personnel and vehicles widely reported as being on scene Friday is an overstatement, and the tactics used by FBI personnel were professional, in line with standard practices, and intended to ensure the safety of everyone present in and outside the residence,” the statement concluded.

Close to the cross of Christ

Houck said that he was shackled at the waist and feet once he arrived at “the federal building.”

Houck said that his detainment was “the most intimate prayer experience” of his life, adding that he was “at the foot of Calvary” and was at peace. He said he felt so close to the cross of Christ that he could “take the splinters off that cross.”

Houck also said that the FBI “manipulated” him and his wife into giving them information that he didn’t want to give them.

He said that he was then in the custody of the U.S. Marshals and said that he was still chained in “a pure act of humiliation,” adding that they treated him like he was “a convicted felon” and “like no other person has ever treated” him.

Houck told Bannon that prior to the trial, the government offered him a plea deal: If he would plead guilty, he would walk away with virtually no punishment but “a slap on the wrist.”

He said his wife told him: “You’re not allowed home if you take that plea.”

“I was not going to take that plea. But I just wanted your audience to know that that’s how highly the government thought of this case,” he said. “And I knew the importance of allowing this case to set precedent for the pro-life movement, to have case law on the books.”

If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.

About Catholic News Agency 6969 Articles
Catholic News Agency (


  1. The government of the United States is now staffed almost to the person by individual I’d describe as nothing less than THUGS. What more can be said. Oh, a sweeping generalization you say? Just this morning I read about staffers at the Air and Space Museum in Washington evicting students from Holy Rosary School in Greenville SC from the museum. What was their offense? They were wearing school beanies that had imprinted on them “Rosary Pro-Life”. They wore them so they could easily identify other members of their group. And besides, a clear violation of a First Amendment right on Federal property paid for by us slobs. Brother, we’re in deep trouble as a democracy.

  2. Is there any possibility that one of Mr. Houck’s children or his wife videotaped the arrest on their cell phone? (I do hope that the older children in the family are allowed to have cell phones. It’s something for parents to think about).

    My fear is that it’s his word and the word of his family members, including many very small children, against the FBI.

    I’m just glad he didn’t resist arrest. The tragedy of Tyre Nichols should make us all be more careful. I’m not sure if Mr. Nichols’ arrest was justified, but my folks always told me (and I am white) that if a cop asks you to do something, do it without protest or resistance. You can sue later if they were in the wrong, but you just don’t argue with cops with guns, sticks, and muscles!

  3. There can be no doubt that the Houcks’ version of the arrest is true and the FBI’s false. This is a despicable episode and very much intended to frighten us all into compliance with a ruthless police state. And so, the way prisoners are shackled is indeed intended to humiliate and dehumanize them. Governments and law enforcement have not evolved at all from the time of Christ and other brutal eras.

  4. God bless Mr. Houck for what he has been unjustly subjected to. My late father was a police officer and I always respected law enforcement. However since the FBI has been politicized to act against those Americans with conservative leanings,and fake charges have become the norm in the US (fake Russia probe and other various accusations against private citizens) I have lost all respect for them as an institution. The FBI also came in force with guns and tactical gear to the home of Mr. Trump , a FORMER PRESIDENT, simply to collect PAPERS!! In addition they have “perp-walked” on TV a number of Trump political supporters accused of non-violent crimes in the same manner. Guns, flashing cars, news cameras. This is what happens in fascist nations and has begun to happen here. They do this for one reason only. They want to make a BIG visual scene in the media to send a signal to ALL Americans who have the nerve to have an opinion different than the govt that they had better shut up and do as told.You are no longer allowed to express conservative or religious thought. They shut our churches for covid. Your children may be living a double sexual life at school and you will not be told. If illegals and terrorists pour through the border with fatal drugs like fentanyl, commit crime and soak up tax dollars ( $500 a night hotel rooms in NYC) which should be spent on YOU, too bad. They CAN stop this ( because Trump DID stop it.) But they will not. Want to avoid a vaccine being injected into your body, or own a gas car or gas stove?? Their orders are , you can’t. Nor do they care they cannot produce enough electricity to support the “green” electric alternate they are forcing you to purchase. Mr Houck was defending his son from an extremist who supports the death of babies to the degree he felt the need to attack a 12 year old child. Mr Houck defended his son , as any normal man would. In pressing this case, the feds were trying to say he could not do so, or he would face jail.That the “right” of a woman to kill her baby was superior to the safety of a 12 year old. Its clear as day the radical left feds were attempting to make an example of Houck and set a legal precedent. Its beyond disgusting. To those so-called Catholics who vote democrats into office, who will not only allow such govt oppression but actively support it, I have this to say. In catholic belief, if you aid in the sin of another, you are also guilty of that sin. Helping to put into office with your vote, people who support repression of its citizens, or the murder of babies in abortion, also have blood on their hands. Judgement day should be interesting for you. It could not be more clear that the feds are not interested in the suppression of ACTUAL crime, like illegal entry into the country, mob shoplifting,gang shootings and other REAL crimes. Clearly they are only interested in POLITICAL crimes, or thought crimes, like expressing concern that an election was stolen, or defending the right to life. For THOSE people they want to jail you and throw away the key. I am glad that Houck was exonerated from this travesty. I hope he sues them and wins a BUNDLE, and I hope some of his neighbors have some door-bell camera footage to bolster his case. Lets just say that in a question about whose testimony to believe at court , I will believe a man who believes in God and prays, long before I believe ANYTHING a corrupt, self-serving government agent has to tell me.

  5. It’s telling that they worked to intimidate Mr. Houck with such drastic tactics. It seems as if they were hopeful that he’d take the plea deal so that they would not have to prosecute such a weak case. So grateful that he held his ground. It gives him a chance to expose the FBI for their politicizing of the abortion issue.

  6. Deacon Peitler writes, “The government of the United States is now staffed almost to the person by individual[s] I’d describe as nothing less than THUGS.” I cannot disagree. The question is where exactly the thuggery begins.

    One could argue that the thuggery emanates from the White House itself. But it is not necessary to prove that. It happened on his watch; his administration is tainted with it. He is responsible, in so far as he can be deemed mentally competent.

    If Democrats were honest, if they were fair, if they didn’t operate by a double standard, then they would put aside their self-righteous, insane, and incoherent obsession with so-called “abortion rights” and join with us in condemning this assault on Houck and his family. If this sort of thing happened to one of theirs, all hell would break loose, and the mainstream media would be all over it.

    I for one am not holding my breath.

  7. The FBI does what it’s ordered to do by the Department of Justice. The DoJ is under the thumb of a weasely bit of misbegotten protoplasm named Merrick Garland who, himself, stooges for an administration that answers to the abortion lobby. See how that works? You can call it a hierarchy if you wish, although lowerarchy would be more accurate.

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. Por que Joe Biden está perseguindo os católicos e quem diabos é o "mártir branco" Mark Houck? Um explicador! - MEDIA PILOT

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.