MTV 'Teen Mom' Star Amber Portwood Faces Domestic Violence Charges

PHOTO Police in Anderson, Ind., pursued domestic violence charges against Amber Portwood, 20, who appears on the reality show that chronicles the challenges of being a young mother.
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Reality television has never been nice.

From "Real Housewives of New Jersey" to the "Jerseylicious" cast, the fighting has become more physical.

But it's a fight captured on tape from MTV's "Teen Mom" that could give one reality star some real-life lessons.

Police in Anderson, Ind., pursued domestic violence charges Thursday against Amber Portwood, 20, who appears on the reality show that chronicles the challenges of being a young mother.

In footage taped by the show, Portwood is seen repeatedly punching and slapping her on-and-off boyfriend Gary Shirley in the presence of their daughter, Leah.

"On Aug. 14, 2009 ... Portwood shoved Shirley against a wall, slapped him on the face and choked him," Anderson Police Detective Mitch Carroll told ABC News Indianapolis affiliate WRTV. "The incident was witnessed by the couple's 1-year-old child, who sat in a child seat on a nearby bed."

Domestic violence in front of a child is a felony in Indiana.

Carroll told WRTV that there were other incidents in June and July 2010 in which "Shirley was slapped, punched and kicked."

Police have recommended that the district attorney file one misdemeanor and two felony charges against Portwood.

If convicted, she will face up to three years in jail and fines of up to $10,000.

Portwood has denied hitting Shirley in front of their daughter.

"None of this is true, there's nothing against me. They can't charge me if they don't have proof," she said in an interview with Hollywoodlife.com.

In response to the incident, MTV released a statement on its website: "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."

Reality-Show Fighting 'Sells'

While fighting may not be staged, critics say, reality-show producers know it sells.

"Reality producers want extreme behavior, that's what gets people talking, " said Dalton Ross, assistant managing editor at Entertainment Weekly. "That's what gets people buzzing, so they want these people on their show to act outrageous."

Ross said the majority of those included in the cast are people who "really live on the edge."

"It's become a case of, 'Can you top that?' One person pulls hair," he said, "so the next person's got to kick someone in the ribs, and the next one got to kick someone in the face, you know, it really becomes a situation where they're trying to outdo what they've already seen."

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