PHILADELPHIA - Out-of-control protestor or protective father?
A federal jury is hearing the case of Mark Houck, the Bucks County man accused of assaulting a Planned Parenthood volunteer.
The question of not if but why pro-life advocate and founder of the men's Catholic ministry site "The King's Men" Houck assaulted Planned Parenthood escort volunteer Bruce Love in October of 2021, is at the heart of the federal trial.
Prosecutors say 48-year-old Houck of Kintnersville violated two counts of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances, or FACE, Act.
The jury was told Houck is a known protestor outside the Philadelphia location. On October 13, 2021, he twice pushed Love to the ground, as the 72-year-old was escorting clients from the center, the second time resulting in injuries requiring medical attention.
Houck's defense said the father of seven was there with his 12-year-old son praying and offering advice to clients, and that Love violated Planned Parenthood's rules of engagement with protestors.
The defense said it was Houck and his son being harassed by Love, with Houck defending himself and his son. Houck’s attorney said Love was harassing the boy near the corner of 12th and Locust streets.
On the stand the CEO and President of Planned Parenthood’s southeast chapter Dayle Steinberg said there is protocol for volunteers not to engage with protestors. The head of Planned Parenthood’s security testified he is the one who gave the video of the second altercation where Love was injured to the FBI two days after the incident.
A big source of contention, at least for the defense, is why the video of the initial confrontation between Houck and Love wasn't saved. The head of Security for Planned Parenthood said it was because it didn't show the physical altercation.
However, the defense said any video would have helped, as they could have found and interviewed the two women Houck was trying to give a pro-life pamphlet to when Love came in between them.
In and out of the courtroom, Houck has support from the pro-life community, raising more than $400,000 online.
A conviction includes a maximum of 11 years in prison and $350,000 in fines.