Palmetto Sunrise: Is T-Rav in or out ... of his Bravo show?

Thomas Ravenel

“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.” – Sept. 11, The State

And so it begins. Or rather, so it continues.

Indeed, in spite of T-Rav’s latest brush with the law (the sexual assault charge followed prior cocaine distribution and DUI arrests, all of which resulted in convictions on lesser charges through plea deals), I predict he will now reappear on Southern Charm.

Further, I predict he will be treated on the program as the “poor little rich boy” who is taken back into the fold of the young (but fast-aging) Charleston aristocracy that the “reality” show revolves around. Or so I’m told, as I’ve never actually seen Southern Charm.

I’ve tried to watch it several times, but the beautifully shot scenes of Charleston and surrounding areas quickly give way to scenes of 30-somethings-going-on-13 (or in T-Rav’s case, 50-somethings-going-on-15) living lives that are embarrassingly vapid, even for reality TV.  I just couldn’t stick with it, even for half an hour.  

Nevertheless, good for the cast and their 15 minutes of fame, as long as no one gets hurt. Or sexually assaulted. Etcetera.

Enter T-Rav, the boy-wonder turned boy-blunder of South Carolina politics. In the latest episode of Blue Blood Meets Blue Lights, the one-time GOP rising star again found himself posing not for a campaign poster but rather a mug shot.

From The State: “The woman from North Carolina was working in Ravenel’s 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.”

Charming. Or perhaps, Southern charm(ing). The story continued:

“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.”

True, the victim agreed to the plea deal. But her attorney added, “She’s looking forward to moving on with her civil case against Bravo (the cable network that airs Southern Charm) and any others encouraging and promoting this sort of behavior.”    

Sounds like the next story line for the show. Cue T-Rav, stage left.

While many may have forgotten or never knew of T-Rav’s comet-like streak across the South Carolina political sky, he was the man of the moment and star of the future when he defeated nine-term incumbent state treasurer Grady Patterson in 2006.

With his good looks, education (bachelor’s from The Citadel, business degree from USC), political pedigree (his father is Arthur Ravenel, the former congressman and state senator for whom the iconic Ravenel Bridge in Charleston is named) and money to burn (he was a very successful commercial real estate developer), Thomas Ravenel seemed destined to quickly become South Carolina’s next governor, or U.S. Senator, or both in succession.

But cocaine and stupidity did him in. In 2007 he was forced from office, and in 2008 went to prison.  

I don’t know if cocaine is still a problem for T-Rav, but stupidity obviously is.  Though given a remarkable second chance in life through the silly but successful Southern Charm, he couldn’t help himself. Even with the hired help.

As part of the plea deal, Ravenel admitted to grabbing the nanny’s arm and trying to kiss her, and apologized for his actions. No word from him on her allegations of penis and vagina grabbing, or wrapping her shirt around her neck.

In the end, T-Rav got another sweetheart deal, agreeing to a $500 fine and no jail time on reduced charges. And that in spite of his prior convictions.

As Mr. Rogers might ask, “Can you say blue-blood privilege?”  

Fisher is president of Fisher Communications, a Columbia advertising and public relations firm. He is active in local issues involving the arts, conservation, business and politics. Let us know what you think: Email editor@free-times.com.

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