Two crucial elements of the FBI’s allegations against Mark Houck, the pro-life father of seven who was detained by federal agents on September 23 for allegedly pushing a Planned Parenthood clinic escort, are called into doubt by new documents.
According to the FACE Act, it is illegal to interfere with someone “because that individual is a provider of reproductive health care.” The FBI accused Houck on two counts of assaulting a reproductive health care clinic escort. The arrest of Houck by multiple federal officers garnered widespread media attention, however recently discovered papers call into question some of the FBI’s allegations.
Bruce Love, who claims to be a longstanding clinic escort, approached Houck as he was praying close to the facility. According to Breen, Love was not escorting any patients at the time of the confrontation and started acting “very aggressively” and harassing Houck’s son, who was 12 at the time.
Love only claimed he was shoved once in an earlier criminal complaint regarding the event, while Houck’s federal indictment is for two assaults. According to Breen, the federal government’s choice to prosecute Houck with two counts of assault is undermined by the fact that Love only alludes to a second shove after the fact.
Breen noted that “it appears Mr. Love is now asserting a second incident in which he claims to have been knocked to the ground. That’s not true. We anticipate seeing some form of proof of the claimed second incident because, if one had occurred, we presume Mr. Love would have included it in his private criminal complaint that he filed with the Pennsylvania state courts.”
In an email to Assistant U.S. Attorney Anita Eve, Houck’s other lawyer Matt Heffron volunteered to accept the summons on Houck’s behalf and stated that his client would appear willingly. However, Eve didn’t reply until the day of the arrest.
“There is no need to send even one agent, much less 20 when the defendant has a counsel, a reputable former federal prosecutor, who is willing to bring the guy anywhere the US attorney’s office would have him presented,” said Breen. “The question is why there were a group of individuals with long guns, ballistic shields, and body armor outside this peaceful and respectful person’s home to execute an arrest warrant that was completely pointless and truly placed the Houck family in danger.”
Additionally, the indictment contains no reference to patients’ presence, and Breen contended that this casts doubt on the federal government’s use of the FACE Act to bring charges against Houck.