New documents call into question two key components of the FBI’s charges against Mark Houck, the pro-life father of seven who was arrested by federal agents Sept. 23 for allegedly shoving a Planned Parenthood clinic escort.
The FBI charged Houck with two counts of assaulting a reproductive health care clinic escort in violation of the FACE Act, which makes it a federal crime to interfere with someone “because that person is a provider of reproductive health care.” Houck’s arrest by numerous federal agents made national headlines, but newly unearthed documents undermine some of the FBI’s charges against him.
Houck was praying near an abortion clinic when Bruce Love, who claims to be a longtime clinic escort, approached him and began behaving “extremely aggressively” and harassing Houck’s then-12-year-old son, his attorney, Peter Breen, told the Daily Caller News Foundation; Love was not escorting any patients at the time of the altercation, according to Breen.
Love only mentioned being shoved once in a prior criminal complaint about the incident, according to a copy of his private criminal complaint first obtained by the Federalist, but Houck’s federal indictment is for two instances of assault. The fact that Love only later mentioned a second shoving undermines the federal government’s decision to charge Houck with two counts of assault, according to Breen.
“Apparently Mr. Love is now claiming a second instance where he says he was knocked to the ground,” Breen said. “That is false. We look forward to some sort of evidence of that alleged other instance because if a crime had actually taken place we assume that Mr. Love would have put it in his private criminal complaint he brought to the Pennsylvania state courts.”
Houck’s other attorney, Matt Heffron, offered to accept the summons on Houck’s behalf and said his client would show up voluntarily in an email to Assistant U.S. Attorney Anita Eve, but Eve didn’t respond until the day of the arrest, according to emails obtained by the Federalist.
“When the defendant has a lawyer, a respected former federal prosecutor, offering to bring the defendant wherever the US attorney’s office would like him presented there is no reason to send one agent, much less 20,” Breen said. “The question is why there were a bunch of people with long guns, ballistic shields and body armor outside this peaceful person’s home to effect an arrest warrant that was utterly unnecessary and really put the Houck family in danger.”
The indictment also makes no mention of patients being present, and their apparent absence undermines the federal government’s use of the FACE Act to prosecute Houck, Breen argued.
The DOJ and FBI did not respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.
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