South Carolina

‘Southern Charm’ star Thomas Ravenel avoids prison in sex assault case plea deal

What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence is a social and public health problem in the U.S. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey says nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men experienced sexual violence victimization other than rape at some point in their lives.
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Sexual violence is a social and public health problem in the U.S. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey says nearly 1 in 2 women and 1 in 5 men experienced sexual violence victimization other than rape at some point in their lives.

Thomas Ravenel — a star on Bravo’s reality show “Southern Charm” and South Carolina’s one-time state treasurer — has dodged prison time on sexual assault charges involving a former nanny, court documents show.

Ravenel instead agreed to pay a $500 fine in place of a 30-day sentence after pleading guilty to a lesser charge of third-degree assault and battery, according to a sentencing decision filed in Charleston County Court on Wednesday.

The woman whose accusations sparked the criminal investigation was not present in court during the sentencing, according to lawyers, and Ravenel agreed to the facts of the case.

The victim’s attorney, Ryan Andrews of Cobb, Dill and Hammett law firm, said his client agreed with the plea offer by the solicitor’s office and that she thanks the police and prosecution for their investigation.

“She’s looking forward to moving on in her civil case against Bravo and any others encouraging and promoting this sort of behavior,” Andrews said.

In court, Ravenel admitted to grabbing the victim by the arm and trying to kiss her while apologizing for his actions, according to Andrews.

Police in Charleston first announced they were investigating sexual assault allegations levied against the former reality TV star in May 2018, The State reported.

He was arrested a few months later on charges of second-degree assault and battery, according to The Charlotte Observer. Jail records show Ravenel was subsequently released on a $20,000 bond.

According to police reports detailed by The State, the woman from North Carolina was working in Ravenel’s Charlotte Street home in Charleston in 2015 when the alleged events unfolded.

Ravenel reportedly undressed and made sexual advances, including putting her hand on his penis and grabbing her vagina, police said.

Police said her bra’s underwire “cut into her skin and her shirt wrapped around her neck, which caused (the woman) to struggle to breathe” during the assault, The State reported. She escaped and pictures were taken of her injuries.

But Charleston Detective Christopher Malinowski testified last year that the photos “weren’t clear enough to show the injuries,” the Post and Courier reported.

The nanny also filed a separate civil lawsuit mirroring the criminal case in December 2018, The State reported. Court documents show the case is ongoing.

Ravenel cut ties with “Southern Charm” before he was arrested, according to The State.

The Charleston-based reality television show follows “modern Southern aristocracy” through the lens of “the city’s most charismatic gentlemen and their Southern belle equals,” according to IMDB.

This is not Ravenel’s first brush with the law — the reality TV star was also indicted on federal cocaine distribution charges in 2007, WCIV reported. He resigned as state treasurer and was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

Shep Rose of Bravo's "Southern Charm" was raised on Hilton Head Island, and says he can't remember ever missing an RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing. Here's why the reality star still loves his hometown.

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Hayley is a Real Time reporter at The Charlotte Observer covering breaking news and trending stories in the Carolinas. She also created the Observer’s unofficial bird beat (est. 2015) with a summer full of ornithological-related content, including a story about Barred Owls in love.
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