The Herald Bulletin

December 28, 2010

'Teen Mom' barred from seeing child's father

Amber Portwood released from jail, reveals that she earns $280K a year


The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — MTV “Teen Mom” reality star and Anderson native Amber Portwood is free from jail, but has been barred from contacting her ex-fiance, Gary Shirley.

Portwood was arrested Monday on two felony counts and a misdemeanor count of domestic battery and one felony count of neglect of a dependant.

Portwood was released from jail after a 24-hour hold when she posted $5,000 bond.

As she left the Madison County Jail on Tuesday, the reality star was greeted by nine photographers and reporters.

A reporter for The Herald Bulletin was inside the jail as Portwood exited. The reality star seemed surprised by the number of reporters outside, and instructed her mother, Tonya Portwood, and her grandmother to keep their chins up. She also told them not to block their faces from the cameras.

Earlier in the day, Portwood appeared before Madison County magistrate Steven Clase via a video feed from the jail for her initial hearing.

During the hearing, Portwood told Clase her occupation was a “television personality” and he asked her to reveal her annual income.

Her attorney, Kathleen Sweeney, responded, “I object.”

“You what?” Clase asked Sweeney.

Sweeney questioned the relevance of the question and Clase promptly overruled the objection, forcing Portwood to reveal that she makes $140,000 for a six-month contract with MTV.

If she works the entire year, Portwood said, the 20-year-old makes $280,000 annually.

Portwood’s criminal charges stem from a Sept. 28 episode of “Teen Mom” in which the reality star is filmed hitting, kicking and punching then-fiance Gary Shirley, the father of her 2-year-old daughter, Leah.

Dozens of viewers called the state’s child abuse hotline to report the abuse, according to Anne Houseworth of the Indiana Department of Child Services.

Viewers also called the Anderson Police Department, tipping police off to the ongoing domestic violence in the Portwood home.

When police began investigating Portwood, they subpoenaed MTV’s unedited film footage and found two other instances of violence caught on film.

Two instances of alleged domestic abuse were witnessed by Portwood’s daughter, which is why two of the charges are felonies, according to Anderson police Detective Mitch Carroll.

During Portwood’s court appearance, Clase placed her under a “no contact” order regarding Shirley.

Portwood sobbed openly as Clase informed her that if she made any attempt to contact Shirley she would return to jail.

Shirley, who attended the hearing with Portwood’s mother, asked Clase how long the order will last.

There was no expiration date set on the order, and it must be lifted by a judge.

Clase warned Shirley that even if he encouraged Portwood to contact him, she would suffer the consequences of breaking the order.

Awaiting her daughter’s release from jail on Tuesday, Tonya Portwood was upset at the sight of photographers waiting outside the jail. “It’s ridiculous,” she said.

She said the Portwood family celebrated Christmas on Monday due to scheduling conflicts, but that Amber hadn’t opened her Christmas presents because she had to report to jail.

Madison County Prosecutor-elect Rodney Cummings doesn’t take office until Saturday, but will prosecute Portwood’s case.

He doesn’t expect that the reality star will do any more jail time.

Cummings said Portwood won’t receive special treatment, but the court will consider the fact that she is a first-time offender. “With a Class D felony, I can’t think of anyone that goes to jail on his or her first offense.”

Cummings admitted he’s been very surprised by the media attention on Portwood. “It just shows the evolution of our culture. There was a time when young women would be pregnant in high school and they’d have to move out of town. It seems it’s no longer a source of embarrassment. It’s a badge of honor. I don’t know what that says about our culture.”

Contact Brandi Watters, 640-4847, brandi.watters@heraldbulletin.com