PHILADELPHIA -- A pro-life activist from Bucks County has been found not guilty of violating the federal FACE Act.

Mark Houck was accused of pushing and injuring a patient escort outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia.

Shortly after the verdict came out, Houck and his legal team held a news conference outside the courthouse, blaming the Department of Justice for the case ever coming to federal court. They believe the case was meant to intimidate people who do sidewalk counseling outside abortion clinics, but Houck said he hopes the opposite happens, and that this result strengthens the pro-life movement.

Now that he's been found not guilty, for Houck, it's a wonderful life.

"I'm George Bailey today. I'm George Bailey," said Houck.

After a week in federal court, and facing the potential of up to 11 years in prison, he is now a free man. Houck said he hopes his case inspires others.

"That's the whole point of this, we wanted this to really help the pro-life movement," said Houck.

Houck was charged with two counts of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act for pushing patient escort Bruce Love twice outside the Planned Parenthood clinic at 12th and Locust streets on October 13th, 2021. The second time Houck injured Love, and the push was caught on camera, but federal prosecutors had to prove that the act rose to the level of a federal crime. At first the jury was deadlocked, but then a swap changed the deliberation.

"One of the jurors had to be excused who was not participating quite frankly in the deliberation process, and we quickly worked to try and bring in an alternate juror, and he came in and within an hour of getting here, there was a unanimous not-guilty verdict," said Brian McMonagle, Houck's defense attorney.

Houck's attorneys believe the case never should have ended up in federal court, and they think politics had to do with it.

"From day one, this case has been an intimidation tactic by the Biden Department of Justice," said Peter Breen, an attorney with the Thomas More Society representing Houck.

An intimidation tactic, they believe, to keep people like Houck from sidewalk counseling outside abortion clinics, but Houck said he's ready to start again right back at the same Planned Parenthood.

"100 percent I'm going back. I'll be there next Wednesday," said Houck.

And Houck's attorneys hope the case continues to get national attention.

"I do now hope that the United States Congress ask Mark to come down and asks Ryan-Marie and the kids to come and testify in front of Congress about what they had, about their experience. What the Department of Justice put them through," said Breen.

We spoke with the federal prosecutors in the case as they were leaving the courtroom, but they declined to comment on the verdict.

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