PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WHTM) – A Pennsylvania man has been charged for allegedly assaulting an elderly Planned Parenthood volunteer.
United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced Friday that Mark Houck of Kintnersville was charged by Indictment with a violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act.
The law makes it a federal crime to use force with the intent to injure, intimidate, and interfere with anyone because that person is a provider of reproductive health care.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Houck is allleged to have twice assaulted a 72-year-old man because he was a volunteer reproductive health care clinic escort.
The charges stem from two separate incidents both on October 13, 2021, which occurred at the Planned Parenthood Elizabeth Blackwell Health Center on Locust Street in Philadelphia, where Houck allegedly assaulted man because was a volunteer escort at the reproductive health care clinic.
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.
Houck was arrested and made his initial appearance in federal court on these charges on Friday.
“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,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “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.”
If convicted, Houck faces a maximum possible sentence of 11 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and fines of up to $350,000.
“This case is being brought solely to intimidate people of faith and prolife Americans,” stated Thomas More Society Vice President and Senior Counsel Peter Breen Breen. “Mark Houck is innocent of these lawless charges, and we intend to prove that in court.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Anita Eve and DOJ Trial Attorney Sanjay Patel of the Civil Rights Division.