Inside Southern Charm Star Thomas Ravenel's Stunning Downfall

The Bravo reality star was arrested on Tuesday on charges of alleged assault and battery second degree, but it's not the first time the disgraced politician has spent time behind bars

By Tierney Bricker Sep 26, 2018 9:56 PMTags
Watch: "Southern Charm's" Thomas Ravenel Has Been Arrested

Southern Charm has lost one of its Peter Pans. 

The Bravo reality hit's star Thomas Ravenel was arrested on charges of alleged assault and battery second degree in Charleston. S.C., E! News reported on Tuesday. (E! News has reached out to Ravenel's attorney for comment.)

Yes, it seems time's up in Charleston, a place once described "as a playground for men who never want to grow up." 

The arrest is the latest development in Ravenel's rapid downfall, which has been filled with allegations of sexual assault from multiple women, cheating scandals, and now, an arrest. But it's not the first time Ravenel has spent time behind bars.

When Southern Charm first premiered in 2014, most viewers were introduced to T-Rav (his oft-used nickname) for the first time, but he was already infamous in Charleston for all the wrong reasons.

Best (or Worst) Mug Shots Ever
Charleston County

Hailing from one of the state's oldest and most revered families—they even have a bridge named after them—Ravenel became the State Treasurer of South Carolina in 2006 and was seemingly on the fast-track to becoming a major player in the U.S. political arena.

Fast-track to September 2007, when Ravenel plead guilty to "conspiring to buy and distribute less than 100 grams of cocaine" and was sentenced to serve 10 months in federal prison in March 2008. Yeah, not a great look for the son of a former South Carolina Congressman.

Following his stint in prison and fall from political grace, Ravenel seemingly kept a low profile in Charleston…that is until filmmaker Whitney Sudler-Smith (who would go on to become a Southern Charm cast member) was looking to make a TV pilot about the men in town and was told he just had to meet Ravenel, a friend of his mother, Patricia Altschul.

"Basically, he was totally ostracized and a lightning rod," Sudler-Smith told E! News in 2017. "I found him incredibly amusing, I just thought, something should be done with this person."

Aaron Rothman, the co-founder Haymaker Productions, the company that produces the show, also knew Ravenel would make for compelling TV. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Thomas Ravenel was one of a kind," he said.

Throughout his five season-stint on Southern Charm, Ravenel was the poster boy for P.P.S. aka Peter Pan Syndrome. 

Charles Sykes/Bravo

But in May 2018, soon after the premiere of Southern Charm's fifth season, Ravenel's time in Neverland came to a crashing halt after a woman came forward alleging Ravenel had sexually assaulted her mother in 2015 after they met on a dating app.

Ashley Perkins alleged to Fox News that her mother, Debbie Hollaway Perkins, met Ravenel via Tinder and went on a date with him on Dec. 25. Perkins alleged that Ravenel held her mother down by holding her wrists, pulled his penis out and inserted his fingers in her private parts.

Ravenel's attorney issued a statement to E! News, saying he was "unfairly" targeted by Perkins because of his reality TV fame. 

"My client enjoys a certain degree of fame and unfortunately has become—unfairly—a target for an individual who has, in my opinion, dubious motivations," Richard P. Terbrusch said.

Though Debbie Holloway Perkins allegedly had signed a non-disclosure agreement after Ravenel had allegedly paid her $200,000, her daughter did not and she felt compelled to speak out in the wake of the Me Too movement.

"These men, such as Thomas Ravenel, are not invincible and they need to be stopped. This attitude of men dominating women must be stopped," she told People. "The time is indeed up, not only for Thomas Ravenel but for women everywhere. I will fight for women's rights from this day on and I pray that I live long enough to see a change where this issue is concerned."

Soon after Perkins came forward, another woman, known to fans as Nanny Dawn as she worked for Thomas and was featured on the show, went public with allegations against her former employer. She filed a report with the Charleston Police Department in May about an incident in 2015, telling People that he was being investigated for "first-degree forcible rape."

"Although I believe he should be in jail for his crimes, the reality according to statistics is that he will go unpunished," Dawn told the magazine. "I feel the only justice I will receive is to share my story in the efforts to educate the public and support assault survivors."

After Nanny Dawn's allegations, " Ravenel's lawyer issued a statement to E! News, "We are aware of the City of Charleston's ongoing investigation of the allegations made by [Dawn],"Rather than engage in a media tit-for-tat, we have offered our cooperation in the investigation and are confident that when the truth comes out Thomas will be vindicated."

After the two women's claims came to light, Bravo issued a statement saying they took the allegations "very seriously" and were waiting for the investigation by the show's production company to be completed before making a final decision regarding Ravenel's future with the network.

"Haymaker, the production company for Southern Charm, and Bravo take allegations like these very seriously," the statement read at the time. "Haymaker is conducting an investigation, and once all the information is gathered and carefully reviewed, appropriate action will be taken."

Rodolfo Martinez/Bravo

But by season's end, Ravenel's exit from the reality show seemed inevitable, and he was not present at the reunion taping in June.

During the taping, Andy Cohen read a statement from Ravenel's attorney: "Along with Bravo, our client made the mutual decision not to attend today's reunion taping as there is a pending investigation. Our client is fully cooperating with authorities on that investigation. He expects to be completely vindicated once the investigation is concluded. He sends his best regards to his fans and his fellow castmates."

By this point, the cast had seemingly finally turned on their Peter Pan, given the allegations against him, his on-and-off relationship with Ashley Jacobs (who was criticized for her treatment of Kathryn Dennis, the mother of Ravenel's two children, all season long) and his general behavior.

"The cast was very upset with Thomas and the situation surrounding Ashley, and cut him out of the group months ago after they stopped filming," a source told E! News. "The majority of the cast was also disgusted by his behavior and the support he gave towards Ashley's actions. No one can believe he is staying in a relationship with Ashley and thinks it's disgusting."

Ravenel introduced Jacobs to the group (and the show) when she moved from California to South Carolina to be with him shortly after they began dating...and definitely made an impression, quickly becoming the villain of the season. (Jacobs issued a public apology to Dennis in late August.)

Our insider added, "Everyone is on Kathryn's side for things and does not want to be affiliated with Thomas." 

Since filming ended, the pair have broken up and reconciled several times, often posting cryptic messages on social media and at times removing all photos of each other from their respective Instagram feeds. The latest? She announced their split on Instagram live, and he hinted that she cheated in a series of tweets in late August. 

"After 30 years I finally understand the lyrics from that wonderful Chicago tune: If she would have been faithful, if she could have been true, then I would have been cheated, I would have never known real love," he wrote.

At the same time as all of their relationship drama was playing out, Bravo had yet to officially announce Ravenel would not return for season six…but Ravenel took to social media to announce he was cutting ties with the show, claiming they took "advantage" of him.

"I'm not doing the show anymore," he tweeted (and later deleted) from his then-private Twitter account. "In the contract they have the right to fictionalize your story. They took advantage of me. I decided I've got too much to lose and informed them I'm not coming back."

Following the news of Ravenel's arrest, the network confirmed that Ravenel was not returning for the next season of Southern Charm, which is set to begin filming soon. 

But Ravenel's public reckoning was a long time coming for many fans, who criticized his behavior on the show for years, especially his treatment of Dennis throughout their relationship.

In season one, Ravenel, then 50, and Dennis, then 21, began their volatile love affair, with the first season ending on the shocking revelation that they were expecting a child together. Season two saw Dennis struggling in her role as a new mother while Ravenel attempted his political comeback, often leaving Dennis alone with their daughter, Kensie

Ravenel decided to run for Senate, and ended up losing in spectacular fashion, landing only 3.9 percent of the vote as Senator Lindsey Graham suggested he was only running to help Southern Charm attract new viewers. 


Ravenel and Dennis' on and off again relationship would become the eye of Southern Charm's storm throughout the series, with the couple going on to have another child together, Saint, in 2015. A long (and sometimes very ugly) custody battle ensued after Dennis, now 26, lost custody of their children after failing a drug test, leading to a 2016 rehab stint. In July 2018, it was revealed Dennis received 50/50 custody with Ravenel. (How is that for reality TV?)

While Southern Charm's surprisingly feminist fifth season finally saw the cast members rallying around Dennis as she rebuilt her life, remained sober and fought for custody of her children, often being subjected to random drug tests mandated by Ravenel, who until recently had the full backing of the cast, even Cameran Eubanks, who apologized to Dennis for what she endured during her relationship with the man 30 years her senior.

"I don't think we even know the half of what she's been through...I view you now as more a victim, I do," she told her at the reunion. "When Thomas met Kathryn, she was pretty much still a child. I think he took advantage of her." 

Andy Cohen then asked if the #MeToo movement had any influence on the women's attitudes this season, Eubanks said, "I think it has definitely influenced what has happened with Thomas recently in the news."

During the reunion, Dennis addressed Charleston's long history of protecting the wealthy men and pattern of gaslighting the women in their lives. 

"I wish people would've realized how the good ole boys system works, which is painting the women as crazy therefore any actions...if they were to come out and say them, they would be discredited," she said. 

Now, it seems, they're finally being heard.

(E! and Bravo are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

Latest News