A Pennsylvania family the FBI raided last September over the father’s pro-life advocacy filed two claims today for a total of $4.35 million in damages due to the FBI’s unconstitutional, “malicious,” and “corrupt” use of “excessive force.”
Mark Houck and Ryan-Marie Houck say in their legal filings obtained by The Federalist that their seven children continue to suffer as a result of the FBI raiding — with battering rams, ballistic shields, armor, and long rifles — the home of a nonviolent pro-lifer who didn’t own any guns and whose seven children were just waking for breakfast.
The Houcks “have lost three babies from miscarriages due to the stress of the FBI’s conduct and resulting prosecution” and subsequently been diagnosed with infertility, Ryan-Marie Houck’s filing says. She says she still cries for hours and the family’s high anxiety provoked by the raid has caused them to install security cameras and rarely leave home.
In the Sept. 23, 2022 raid, “Government agents aimed rifles and handguns at Mr. Houck from his porch and from behind vehicles in his yard and driveway,” Ryan-Marie Houcks’ complaint says. “They also aimed their weapons at Mrs. Houck, who slowly walked down a staircase to approach the Houcks’ front door. Mrs. Houck approached after Mr. Houck had already walked peacefully outside with his hands up. Any bullet that missed Mr. Houck could have struck Mrs. Houck or her children, who were stirring throughout the house and had gathered behind her on the staircase. The entire family was located directly downrange.”
The FBI said they put their guns away once Houck was arrested. The sunrise raid that included approximately 20 law enforcement officers was conducted after Mark Houck’s lawyer had informed the Department of Justice he would voluntarily turn himself in if requested. Mark Houck’s complaint says his 9-year-old daughter was terrified to find two officers dressed in black carrying rifles looking into their home through a back window.
The Houcks’ lawsuits say that, as a result of the “unnecessary” raid, “The children continually come to her [Ryan-Marie] crying and suffering from nightmares.” Ryan-Marie and their five oldest children, ages 7 to 13, now must take medication “to get a few hours of sleep” each night.
“Joshua was six years old at the time he saw his father taken away at gun point,” says Ryan-Marie’s complaint. “He cried the entire time and yelled to the FBI, ‘Please don’t take him he is my best friend.’ To this day, any time someone brings up the raid or tells the story, he starts to cry as if he is reliving the day all over again. He constantly worries that he will lose his father or mother.”
Their 4-year-old has started sleepwalking, the claims say. The entire family seizes up with anxiety any time they have an unannounced visitor. Once, a friend showing up unannounced gave Ryan-Marie a panic attack, her filing says.
A Pennsylvania jury acquitted Mark Houck in January on all charges the Department of Justice brought against him. The DOJ argued Houck had violated a federal law that prohibits physically obstructing abortion facilities. Houck and his son were 100 feet away from the facility when they were accosted by a pro-abortion escort.
Mark Houck’s complaint notes that, except for one single recent case, the DOJ has prosecuted only pro-lifers for alleged violations of the FACE Act used against him. The law is supposed to apply both to abortion supporters and pro-lifers, but the DOJ has almost exclusively used it against pro-lifers.
“The force used in the seizure of Mr. Houck was unreasonable. Mr. Houck had not been charged with a severe crime at the time of his arrest, nor had Mr. Houck ever been charged with a severe crime,” Mark Houck’s filing says. “Mr. Houck’s attorney had offered to accept a summons on Mr. Houck’s behalf in the event of an indictment. Mr. Houck did not pose an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others. Mr. Houck did not resist arrest or attempt to evade arrest by flight. Mr. Houck has no history of being violent or dangerous. Mr. Houck, nor anyone living with Mr. Houck, was armed.”
Mark Houck’s complaint also alleges the Department of Justice knowingly presented false information to a grand jury to obtain permission for the FBI raid on his home. It also notes that due to his time spent preparing for trial and the damage to his reputation of the government’s allegations against him, he has lost some $76,000 in income in the last year.
“Even though he did not go to prison, the damage of this prosecution on his professional prospects and reputation are irreversible,” Mark Houck’s filing says. “Many of his professional and personal relationships have been forever ruined because individuals still believe the falsehoods spread by the Government in its charging documents and press releases.”
Ryan-Marie Houck seeks $1.5 million in damages for assault and emotional distress, and $250,000 in damages for each of the couple’s children. Mark Houck seeks $1.1 million for “malicious prosecution, retaliatory prosecution, false arrest, abuse of process, and assault.”