Months after being unanimously acquitted of all charges against him, Catholic father and pro-life activist Mark Houck and his wife Ryan-Marie Houck filed lawsuits on Monday against the FBI and DOJ for malicious and retaliatory prosecution, abuse of process, false arrest, and assault.
The Houcks, a family of nine living in rural eastern Pennsylvania, are being represented by Graves Garrett, a Kansas City-based law firm. The family is also teaming with 40 Days for Life, the national pro-life organization with which
Houck has been a long-time volunteer.
Shawn Carney, president of 40 Days for Life, told CNA that the lawsuit is a signal to the world that the era of targeting pro-lifers for their beliefs “is over.”
What do the lawsuits say?
The lawsuit notices, obtained by CNA, allege that the FBI’s decision to arrest and prosecute Houck, despite his offers to cooperate with their investigation, was “malicious” and “intended to accomplish an illicit corrupt purpose not in the interest of justice, and in violation of Mr. Houck’s clearly established First Amendment rights and his rights under the common law to be free of malicious and retaliatory prosecution.”
“Government agents opted for excessive and overwhelming force that resulted in unnecessary danger and fear,” Houck’s notice states.
The results of the FBI’s targeting and excessive use of force, the notice said, have exhibited themselves in every member of the Houck family both physically and emotionally.
Houck, his wife, and his children continue to suffer from post-traumatic stress, economic loss, and irreparable loss of reputation.
According to Mrs. Houck’s suit notice, the seven Houck children, ages ranging from 14 to 2, suffer from intense anxiety, constant fears of losing their father or mother, and inability to sleep because of the traumatic nature of the arrest.
“Most tragically,” Houck’s notice said, “Mr. Houck and his wife have lost three babies from miscarriages due to the stress of the FBI’s conduct and resulting prosecution.”
According to the notice, the stress of the FBI’s arrest and prosecution of the Houcks has been “so severe that the Houcks have been diagnosed with infertility.”
In total, the Houcks are seeking $4.35 million in damages for the hardships and trauma brought on by the FBI’s actions.