November 18, 2010
'Teen Mom' charged with battery
Police study MTV tapes, request charges against Portwood
By Brandi Watters The Herald Bulletin The Herald Bulletin Thu Nov 18, 2010, 09:17 PM EST
ANDERSON, Ind. — MTV’s “Teen Mom” reality star and Anderson native Amber Portwood is facing preliminary charges of felony battery.Anderson Police Department Detective Mitch Carroll said police are pursuing two felony counts of battery and one misdemeanor count of battery against Portwood relating to domestic violence against her child’s father, Gary Shirley. The incidents of alleged abuse were captured on film by MTV cameras over the past year.On Thursday, Carroll issued a statement explaining the charges.“Following a seven-week investigation into alleged domestic violence, Anderson Police have filed three criminal charges versus 20-year-old MTV reality show Teen Mom Amber Portwood,” the statement reads.The investigation began in late September after an episode of the MTV show aired depicting Portwood repeatedly hitting, slapping and kicking Shirley.The three criminal charges are related to three separate incidents.After Anderson police subpoenaed MTV’s unedited footage of the fights, police discovered three separate incidents that warranted criminal charges, Carroll said.On Aug. 14, 2009, Portwood shoved Shirley against a wall, slapped him in the face and choked him, according to police documents.“The incident was witnessed by the couple’s one-year-old child who sat in a child seat on a nearby bed,” the statement reads.Carroll said Portwood faces two felony charges because her daughter, Leah, was present during two of the attacks.On June 14, Portwood was videotaped slapping Shirley five times, punching him three times and kicking him at least once, according to police.On July 18, Portwood was again videotaped in the presence of her daughter slapping Shirley in the face and punching him several times in the face and upper body, according to police records.The July 18 incident never aired on the MTV program.According to the probable cause affidavit, Portwood got into a “fighter stance and punched Gary several more times in the facial area and upper body. Initially Gary was sitting down, but got up and exited the room as the punches were thrown.”The child was present for the fight.On Oct. 20, Portwood implicated herself in all of the incidents, according to the probable cause affidavit.“She stated that the incidents were out of anger and were not staged for the reality show,” Detective Jake Brooks wrote in the police report. “She claimed to not remember everything due to some medical issues in which she is under a (doctor’s) care for currently.”Portwood denied at least one allegation, claiming Leah was only present during one fight, Brooks said.Shirley told police that Portwood had punched, kicked and slapped him numerous times.Carroll said Portwood has not yet been arrested or formally charged.His office forwarded the requested battery charges to the office of county Prosecutor Tom Broderick.Broderick will then decide if the charges should be elevated, reduced, dismissed or remain the same, according to Carroll.If Broderick wants to pursue charges against Portwood, a warrant will be issued for her arrest, Carroll explained.“As in any case, we will review the evidence to determine what, if any, formal charges should be filed,” Broderick said Thursday.When asked if Portwood will continue to be featured on the MTV reality show, MTV’s Melissa Barreto responded, “We are cooperating with all parties and hope for a quick and fair resolution that allows everyone involved to move forward in a positive manner.”The Herald Bulletin visited Portwood’s Anderson home Thursday seeking comment. She was not home, according to a family friend in front of her home.He said media and camera crews had already begun showing up at the Portwood home.Indiana’s Department of Child Services has an “open assessment” into Portwood’s alleged domestic violence due to the presence of her child during the fights.Ann Houseworth of DCS said the criminal charges against Portwood won’t necessarily affect the outcome of DCS’ investigation, but could affect placement of the couple’s daughter if allegations prove true. “If you were asking if that would play a role in placement, we would certainly take that into account when making recommendations for the placement of the child.”Prosecutor-elect Rodney Cummings, who will take office in January, said he expects that he’ll likely be handling Portwood’s case due to the timing of the charges.“If it’s a felony case, it’s unlikely that it’s ever going to be resolved before the end of the year,” Cummings said.Since Portwood doesn’t have a criminal record, she could be eligible for diversion, Cummings said, but that’s unlikely due to the nature of the possible charges.Diversion allows a subject to avoid criminal conviction by following court guidelines regarding parenting classes or anger management courses.“Pretrial diversion is not usually for people charged with felonies. It’s not unheard of either. That could be a possibility,” Cummings said.If convicted on these charges, Portwood could face three years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.