Anderson woman investigated over 'Teen Mom' violence
Anderson - Authorities in Madison County are investigating an Anderson woman who struck her fiancé repeatedly on a hit reality MTV show. The violence on "Teen Mom" could have a far reaching impact on the couple and their baby girl.
The show's title says it all: "Teen Mom." The show features real-life teenagers as they cope with the challenges of parenthood.
"I am a mom! I'm a teenager too!" one of the show's stars protested to her mother.
But now another young woman featured on the show is being investigated for domestic violence. The show's producers caught the entire incident on tape, and aired it in a recent episode.
It's attracting controversy on several levels - the violent acts, the fact that they were perpetrated in front of the couple's young daughter, the camera crew's failure to intervene and MTV's decision to air the episode.
Amber Portwood, a teenage mother who lives in Anderson, Indiana, is shown shouting at her boyfriend Gary Shirley, who is notably taller and heavier than she is, and slapping him. She also cusses frequently during her tirade.
"You don't talk to my [expletive] dad like that! You hear me?" she screamed, pushing him by the neck against a wall, then slapped him.
That incident occurred last year. Their baby girl Leah was in the room, and now it's happened again.
"I swear to God I was I was bigger than you. I'd [expletive] beat your [expletive]," Portwood told Shirley, hitting and punching him several times when he threatened to report her for being a bad mother.
Anderson Police have launched a criminal investigation into Amber's behavior. Child Protective Services is also investigating the case. Portwood could be charged with misdemeanor battery.
In Indiana, domestic violence in front of a child under the age of 14 can be a felony.
Anderson police have yet to interview the couple.
"This was a reality series so we don't know if what you're seeing is actually the way that it took place. Was there editing? Were they told to amp it up for TV? We don't know because we haven't been able to have that conversation," said Det. Mitch Carroll, Anderson Police.
Speaking on an MTV reunion special, Portwood later said she didn't remember getting so angry and tearfully said, "I don't remember it being like that. I feel like I hit him one time and then I watch and I'm hitting him multiple times."
Portwood calls herself a teenage party girl and a high school dropout who became pregnant. This week, Life & Style magazine featured a picture of Amber and her daughter on the cover with the headline, "Out-of-control monster!"
"There are critics who say that MTV or the production company should have stepped in and stopped the scene especially because they occurred in front of their baby daughter Leah," said Bonnie Fuller, Hollywoodlife.com.
After seeing the latest fight, investigators went to Portwood's home. They say they found evidence that warrants their attention.
"As we're all glued to the television set watching this train wreck, we need to be cognizant that these are real lives, real situations and that there is the mental health of this child who's at stake here," said Jeff Gardere, psychologist.
Gary Shirley said he could not comment on last year's incident or the more recent one.
Also, according to a report from the Madison County Sheriff's Department, a deputy was called to Shirley's home Tuesday night on a domestic disturbance after Shirley pushed an underwear-clad Portwood out of the home after she threatened to attack him over a text message he received.
Portwood told deputies that she's been under stress over the battery investigation in the Teen Mom series. With a private security team stationed outside of her house, she declined to talk about the latest in a series of outbursts with the focus now on the welfare of this Teen Mom's child.