American pro-life activist Mark Houck and his wife have filed multi-million dollar lawsuits against the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI. It follows a massive pre-dawn raid on their Pennsylvania home by around 20 heavily armed agents and state troopers in September last year, although no one has yet ascertained the exact number of government officers involved.
Mr Houck woke up to incessant banging on his door. He opened it to what he claimed were more than 15 FBI agents crowded on his front porch and front lawn with guns pointed at him. Some reports say they were armed with M-16 automatic rifles. “They were all the way lined down my driveway,” Mr. Houck said at the time when family representative Brian Middleton told Faithwire: “Despite putting his hands up and willingly cooperating, multiple agents pointed guns in Mark’s face as his family, including his seven young children, were forced to watch their dad “shackled” and taken away,”
The large team of government officers arrested Mr. Houck and took him away to be formally charged him at a DOJ office before he was released later the same day. He had previously offered to formally present himself at a federal office to be charged, but his offer was ignored. The Christian Post reports a jury later acquitted him of all charges.
The Houcks are seeking around A$7 million in damages. They allege malicious and retaliatory prosecution, abuse of process, false arrest and assault. They accused both government agencies of a “faulty” investigation that led to an excessively forceful arrest that has severely impacted Mr. Houck’s wife Ryan Marie and their seven children who “continually come to their mother crying and suffering from nightmares.”
Their lawsuits claim the harrowing experience has left each member of the devout Christian family suffering from emotional trauma and physical manifestations of stress. The complaint adds that Ryan-Marie Houck has suffered three miscarriages since the ordeal, blaming it on “the stress of the FBI’s conduct and resulting prosecution.”
“The children are easily triggered whenever the situation is brought up or unannounced guests arrive at the property, and their mother spends a significant amount of time counselling and comforting them,” one lawsuit continues.
The Catholic News Agency reports the DOJ charged Mr. Houck with two counts of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act after he pushed a 73-year-old pro-abortion volunteer escort who was allegedly harassing his 12-year-old son with profane abuse outside an abortion clinic in Philadelphia. Mark Houck could have faced 11-years in jail and a A$500,000 fine, but a jury acquitted him on both charges in January.
The Houcks have previously told The Daily Signal they believe they were targeted by the DOJ to intimidate, silence, and scare the family for their pro-life work. Their lawsuits describe Mr. Houck’s arrest as an “unnecessary and unlawful show of force,” and accuses the agency of intentionally seeking to assault him and deprive him of his Fourth Amendment rights “by using excessive force to arrest him on non-violent charges when he had not threatened law enforcement, did not own a gun, and had offered to turn himself in to authorities if indicted.”
Shawn Carney, president of 40 Days for Life which is representing the Houcks, proclaimed: “This lawsuit will send a strong message to the DOJ that the United States of America does not belong to (Attorney General) Merrick Garland or the FBI. It belongs to all Americans, despite our many disagreements on different issues, We all believe that we should have the right to free speech and be protected from unlawful infringement by our own government.”
“Mark and his wife have valid and critical claims against the government that raided their house and pointed guns at them and their screaming children. Mark, his wife, and their seven children have been devastated by this horrific event, which should never have happened, if not for the bigotry of our compromised DOJ,” he added.
Photo: Thomas More Society