The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update


May 5, 2011

‘Teen Mom’ rejects house arrest plea deal

Amber Portwood tries to have restraining order lifted

ANDERSON, Ind. — Local “Teen Mom” reality star Amber Portwood has rejected a plea deal that would keep her out of jail for allegedly beating her child’s father on film.

Portwood appeared in court Thursday on charges stemming from a Sept. 28 episode of MTV’s “Teen Mom” where she was seen punching, kicking and slapping Gary Shirley, the father of her 2-year-old daughter, Leah.

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

The footage prompted local police to subpoena MTV’s unedited footage of Portwood and detectives discovered two incidents where Portwood allegedly battered Shirley in front of their child.

On Thursday, Portwood told The Herald Bulletin that the prosecutor’s office had offered her a plea deal — 90 days of house arrest and two years of probation.

She turned it down, stating that she can’t do her job as a mother if she’s bound to her home.

Shirley currently has primary custody of Leah and Portwood has visitation rights.

Portwood was arrested on Dec. 27 on two felony counts and a misdemeanor count of domestic battery and one felony count of neglect of a dependant.

After spending one day in jail, Portwood posted bond and was barred from making contact with Shirley.

That restraining order was later amended to state that Portwood and Shirley could have contact, but not in the presence of their young daughter.

On Thursday, Portwood’s attorney, Robert Schembs, asked the court to drop the no-contact order, stating that the alleged battery took place over two years ago and the couple has had no further incidents of violence.

Shirley testified that he thought the order should be dropped because he doesn’t fear Portwood and the restraining order makes it difficult for the couple to effectively parent Leah.

Madison Superior Court Judge David Happe decided not to lift the restraining order.

“I understand that Mr. Shirley feels safe in the presence of Ms. Portwood,” Happe said.

Happe stated that the order was meant to protect Leah as well, indicating that she might be psychologically damaged from seeing the couple fight.

“I’m going to err on the side of caution and leave the order as it exists now,” he said.

As Portwood was informed of the plea deal offered by the prosecutor’s office prior to the hearing, she reacted with anger and disbelief in the hallway outside the courtroom.

“Are you kidding me?” she asked Schembs, moments before entering the courtroom.

Happe gave Portwood and her attorney 60 days to work out a plea deal and set a trial date for Nov. 16.

Contact Brandi Watters: 640-4847,

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