Pro-life activist Mark Houck and his wife are filing a lawsuit against the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the way their family was treated during his intense arrest at gunpoint.
The Houcks initiated legal action on November 6, pursuing compensation for charges including assault, false arrest, abuse of process, malicious and retaliatory prosecution, and “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
Mark Houck, a Catholic, and father of seven, was arrested at his home in East Greenville, Pennsylvania, in the early hours of September 23, 2022, when his family awoke to find a group of heavily armed FBI agents at their front door.
The arrest resulted from a confrontation in October 2021 between Mr. Houck and an elderly escort at a Planned Parenthood clinic—an incident where local authorities opted not to press charges.
However, over a year later, the Department of Justice (DOJ) brought charges against Mr. Houck for allegedly violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act twice. This law prohibits violent and threatening behavior aimed at disrupting an individual’s right to “seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services.”
In January, a jury cleared Mr. Houck of those charges. However, as per the grievances filed by the Graves Garrett law firm, he and his family members are still suffering from “severe emotional distress” stemming from his arrest and the legal battle for his freedom.
“These government agents intentionally sought to assault Mr. Houck 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,” one of the complaints notes.
In the course of the raid, agents allegedly aimed their firearms at the activist’s wife, Ryan-Marie Houck, and their children—an action that the lawsuits claim was intended to cause emotional distress.
In Mr. Houck’s complaint, he also asserted that the indictment against him was filled with factual errors and false statements. He argued that these could only have been endorsed by a grand jury if the Department of Justice (DOJ) presented the facts in a malicious way or concealed critical and material information.
As per the lawsuits, the emotional impact of the raid had such a profound effect on the Houck children that they now suffer from anxiety and sleep issues. Additionally, some of them have developed enduring fears of law enforcement, unannounced visitors, and the prospect of losing their parents.
In total, the Houck family is seeking $4.35 million in collective damages.
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