A Catholic pro-life activist was arrested Friday at his rural Pennsylvania home and charged with physically assaulting a Planned Parenthood clinic escort last year.
Mark Houck, 48, of Kintnersville, Pennsylvania, is co-founder and president of The King’s Men, a Catholic ministry that aims to spiritually mentor young Catholic men.
Houck’s wife, Ryan-Marie, told Catholic News Agency that a “SWAT team of about 25 came to my house with about 15 vehicles and started pounding on our door.”
“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,” she said.
A spokesperson with the Philadelphia office of the FBI pushed back against the SWAT team claim, telling Fox News Digital: “There are inaccurate claims being made regarding the arrest of Mark Houck. 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 spokesperson did not respond to a follow-up question from Fox News Digital regarding the accuracy of the report that up to 25 agents were involved in the arrest.
U.S. Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced Friday that Houck had been charged by indicment with violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. The law makes it a federal crime to use force with the intent to injure, intimidate, and interfere with anyone because that person is a provider of reproductive health care.
Prosecutors say Houck assaulted a 72-year-old man – identified in the Indictment as “B.L.” – outside the Planned Parenthood Elizabeth Black Health Center in Philadelphia on October 13, 2021.
According to a Justice Department press release, B.L. was attempting to escort two patients exiting the clinic, “when the defendant forcefully shoved B.L. to the ground.” In a second incident, Houck is accused of “verbally” confronting B.L. and forcefully shoving him to the ground outside the planned parenthood center, causing injuries that required medical attention.
“Assault is always a serious offense, and under the FACE Act, if the victim is targeted because of their association with a reproductive healthcare clinic, it is a federal crime,” Romero said. “Our Office and the Department of Justice are committed to prosecuting crimes which threaten the safety and rights of all individuals.”
“Put simply, violence is never the answer,” said Jacqueline Maguire, who is Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Violating the FACE Act by committing a physical assault is a serious crime for which the FBI will work to hold offenders accountable.”
Houck’s wife told the website, LifeSiteNews that her husband drove two hours south every Wednesday to speak outside of abortion clinics for six to eight hours at a time and at times would bring their 12-year-old son.
She contended that her husband had shoved a man who had gotten into the personal space of their son and said obscene things about Houck. She told the outlet that the man tried to sue her husband, but the District Court in Philadelphia threw out the case earlier this summer and it was picked up again by Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice.
Fox News has reached out to the DOJ for comment.
If convicted, Houck faces a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and fines of up to $350,000 Online court records do not list an attorney who could speak on Houck’s behalf.