FBI Denies Sending SWAT Team to Arrest Catholic Pro-Life Activist Mark Houck

Phil Thiltrickett, an opponent of an abortion, holds a rosary as he prays outside a Planned Parenthood Clinic, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, in San Antonio. A federal appeals court judge is considering whether to grant an emergency appeal that would allow the state to enforce a law that could shut …
AP Photo/Eric Gay

The FBI has denied sending a swat team of 25-30 agents to arrest Catholic pro-life activist Mark Houck for allegedly shoving an escort outside of a Planned Parenthood clinic last year.

Outrage ensued among conservatives throughout the weekend when it was reported that the FBI subjected Houck’s children to a fully armored SWAT raid last week under the order of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Mark Houck, the founder and president of The King’s Men — a group dedicated to helping men become better husbands, fathers, and leaders — was arrested at his rural Pennsylvania home on Friday for allegedly violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act during his regular sidewalk counseling outside of an abortion clinic in 2021. Speaking with LifeSiteNews, Houck’s wife, Ryan-Marie, said that around 25 to 30 fully armored FBI agents stormed their property early Friday morning, aiming their rifles as the children screamed in horror.

“They started pounding on the door and yelling for us to open it,” Ryan-Marie said of the raid.

Prior to opening the door, Mark allegedly tried to reason with the agents to calm them down for the sake of his children. “Please, I’m going to open the door, but, please, my children are in the home. I have seven babies in the house,” Houck allegedly told the agents.

The FBI agents allegedly “just kept pounding and screaming,” according to Ryan-Marie.

“They had big, huge rifles pointed at Mark and pointed at me and kind of pointed throughout the house,” Ryan-Marie said of the moment that her husband opened the door for the agents.

“Our staircase is open, so [the kids] were all at the top of the stairs which faces the front door, and I was on the stairs as well, coming down,” she said. “The kids were all just screaming. It was all just very scary and traumatic.”

In a statement to Fox News on Sunday, a spokesperson with the FBI Philadelphia field office denied that a SWAT Team had been used to apprehend Mark Houck.

“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 FBI said.

The FBI did not deny that up to 25-30 armored agents were on the scene or that Houck’s children witnessed the agents pointing rifles at their father and mother to arrest him for allegedly shoving someone in front of an abortion clinic.

Houck’s wife 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” and that they had “about five guns pointed at my husband, myself and basically at my kids.”

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland explains to reporters that he will not take questions after he delivered a statement at the U.S. Department of Justice August 11, 2022, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Ryan-Marie said her children were “really sad and stressed” as a result of the raid and that she has already “reached out to some psychiatrists or psychologists to try and help us through this.”

“I don’t really know what’s going to come of it when you see guns pointed at your dad and your mom in your house when you first wake up in the morning,” she told the outlet.

According to Ryan-Marie, the charges were from an incident in which he shoved a pro-abortion activist who had been harassing his 12-year-old son in front of an abortion clinic during one of his sidewalk counseling sessions. The charges were reportedly “thrown out of the District Court in Philadelphia” earlier this year only to later be picked up by Merrick Garland’s Department of Justice. Per LifeSiteNews:

On several occasions when Mark went to sidewalk counsel last year, he took his eldest son, who was only 12 at the time, she explained. For “weeks and weeks,” a “pro-abortion protester” would speak to the boy saying “crude … inappropriate and disgusting things,” such as “you’re dad’s a fag,” and other statements that were too vulgar for her to convey.

Repeatedly, Mark would tell this pro-abortion man that he did not have permission to speak to his son and please refrain from doing so. And “he kept doing it and kind of came into [the son’s] personal space” obscenely ridiculing his father. At this point, “Mark shoved him away from his child, and the guy fell back.”

“He didn’t have any injuries or anything, but he tried to sue Mark,” and the case was thrown out of court in the early summer.

Local reports conveyed a different story, charging that Houck shoved the man, a 72-year-old, on two occasions, the second of which required “medical attention.” WHTM reported:

In the first incident, the man was attempting to escort two patients exiting the clinic when Houck forcefully shoved him to the ground. In the second incident, Houck allegedly confronted the man and shoved him to the ground in front of the Planned Parenthood center, causing injuries that required medical attention.

The report did not mention Ryan-Marie’s claim that the case had been thrown out of District Court prior to the Department of Justice picking up the charges.

The FACE Act makes it a federal crime to intimidate, injure, or interfere with anyone attempting to provide abortion access. U.S. Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero said:

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. 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, 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 could face up to 11 years in prison and fines up to $350,000 if found guilty.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the full mission of The King’s Men:  to help men become better husbands, fathers, and leaders.

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