Former “Southern Charm” star Thomas Ravenel settled a lawsuit with nanny Dawn Ledwell in federal court after she accused him of sexual assault. Ravenel didn’t actually give any money directly to Ledwell, court documents obtained by Heavy show. Instead, he paid her legal fees and made a donation to a non-profit organization that works with victims of sexual assault, the court records reveal. The court documents can be read here.
Ravenel, a South Carolina politician and real estate developer who appeared on the first five seasons of the Bravo reality show, also apologized to Ledwell, according to court records. He said in a statement to WCIV, “While I reiterate that I have never intentionally sexually assaulted anyone, I also acknowledge that by making an unwelcome advance to Dawn in my home, while she was babysitting my daughter, I behaved improperly and caused her immediate and lasting emotional distress. I unqualifiedly apologize for having done so.”
Ledwell had also appeared on the Bravo show as “Nanny Dawn” and was friends with Ravenel’s now-ex-girlfriend, Kathryn Dennis, who is the mother of two of his three children. According to court records, Ravenel and Dennis are currently going through a bitter child custody case. Ledwell also filed criminal charges against Ravenel after accusing him publicly of assaulting her during an incident at Ravenel’s Charleston home in 2015.
The accusations made by Ledwell changed during the proceedings in civil and criminal court. Ravenel admitted he made what he called an “unwanted advance.” Ravenel was removed from the Bravo show after the accusations were made public in 2018.
Thomas Ravenel Agreed to Pay Dawn Ledwell $40,000 in Legal Fees & to Make a Donation of $80,000 in Her Name to People Against Rape, Court Records Show
According to court documents, Ravenel agreed to pay $40,000 in legal fees accumulated by Ledwell and to make a donation in her name to a non-profit organization, People Against Rape, in her name. The agreement led to Ravenel being removed from the federal lawsuit, which also named Bravo, NBC Universal, Comcast and Haymarket Content LLC as defendants.
In an affidavit included in the settlement, Ledwell, who nannied for Ravenel and Dennis from 2014 to 2015, wrote, “I was initially uncomfortable with the spotlight cast by participating in the television program ‘Southern Charm,’ but appeared on the show because the constant presence of the cameras during filming meant that it was almost inevitable that I would be captured on film at some point during the execution of my duties as nanny.”
She added, “I was not paid as a performer by ‘Southern Charm’s’ production company or network, but it was my understanding that a portion of y salary for providing nannying services may have been paid by one or more of those entities.”
Ledwell wrote that she found the “working environment unhealthy. The combination of Thomas Ravenel’s and Kathryn Dennis’ arguments and frequent intoxication created tension for me and concern about the children’s wellbeing.” She added:
On January 25, 2015, after I had provided babysitting services to Thomas Ravenel, he returned home, appearing to be intoxicated, and made unwanted physical contact towards me. I have. read and understand his account of waht happened that night, and realize his recollection differs from mine. At first, I wrote off his actions taht evening to his intoxication. Later, while I continued to nanny and care for his children, but a s the employer-employee relationship soured, I realized that it as part of the toxic working environment I endured while working for him and Kathryn Dennis.
In the spring of 2018, when stories began emerging in the press about Thomas Ravenel and other women, and after Kathryn Dennis and friends reached out to me, encouraging me to come forward, I ultimately recognized the incident as sexual assault. While his memory differs in critical ways from my own regarding the incident, I accept Thomas’ apology for his unwarranted physical contact that evening and I believe him when he says he never intended to sexually assault me.
While I have accepted Thomas Ravenel’s settlement and public apology, I do not believe the incident should be ignored within the legal system.
Ledwell added, “I never pursued this case for notoriety or to take advantage of Thomas Ravenel’s wealth and fame. I am satisfied by this settlement as it provides resources to People Against Rape, who do important work for victims and survivors of sexual assault. I now want to become an advocate for survivors who were once scared to come forward, will do so knowing that there are people out there that will listen to them and who will take their accusations seriously.”
In January 2020, a federal judge ordered Ledwell and the othe defendants to settle the lawsuit through private arbitration, citing a contract she signed to appear on “Southern Charm,” records show. Ledwell appealed that decision, but the judge’s ruling was upheld. It is not clear what the outcome of the arbitration proceedings, which are held behind closed doors, were.
Thomas Ravenel Also Pleaded Guilty to Third-Degree Assault & Battery in Criminal Court
Along with the civil case, Ravenel was also charged in Charleston criminal court. He pleaded guilty in July 2019 to a reduced charge of third-degree assault and battery, court records show. He was initially charged with second-degree assault. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, but the sentence was suspended if he paid a $500 fine, meaning he didn’t actually have to spend any time behind bars.
According to WCIV, Ravenel said in court, “Your honor, on the night of the incident, I did attempt to kiss Mrs. Ledwell, and grabbed her arm, and that was wrong. I am much appreciative of the opportunity to apologize to Mrs. Ledwell in court today.”
It was not Ravenel’s first criminal conviction. He was arrested on federal drug charges in 2007, while he was South Carolina’s state treasurer. He resigned from his position and was sentenced to 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to cocaine distribution, court records show.