Why Did Thomas Ravenel Get Zero Jail Time After Pleading Guilty to Assault? An Expert Weighs in

An expert explains how Thomas Ravenel's assault and battery charge might affect the ongoing civil suit and his custody battle with ex Kathryn Dennis

Thomas Ravenel pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and battery Wednesday after his children’s former nanny accused him of rape. Now, what will happen to his custody agreement with ex Kathryn Dennis and the civil suit Nanny Dawn filed against him?

The former Southern Charm star, 57, appeared in Charleston County court Wednesday morning, when he received a 30-day sentence suspended to a $500 fine for the crime.

Ravenel will pay a $500 fine and go on probation in lieu of jail time, which an expert says seems a bit lenient given the severity of Dawn’s rape accusation against him. (She asked that she be publicly identified by her first name and occupation for her own privacy.)

“This does not seem appropriate,” says Steve Mindel, an LA-based family law specialist who is not associated with the case. “Zero jail time, a small fine, this seems like what would happen if I threw an egg at my neighbor’s car.”

Southern Charm - Season 4
Rebecca Miller/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty

Mindel says that while it’s “unusual that he would plead guilty,” it might be part of Ravenel’s legal strategy, to win him a favorable resolution in the ongoing civil suit.

“The [guilty plea] may be part of the agreement,” he says. “‘I agree I will plead guilty to the criminal charge as long as I don’t have to do jail time,’ and the court might be fine with that and this settles the civil case – two things working simultaneously.”

(Ravenel’s ex-nanny filed a civil lawsuit against the Southern Charm alum as well as Bravo, NBC Universal, Comcast, and the show’s production company, Haymaker, last December.)

Another question following Ravenel’s guilty plea is how it will affect his custody battle with Dennis over daughter Kensie, 5, and son Saint, 3.

Mindel says Ravenel’s guilty plea will “negatively impact the judge,” but it won’t change their current custody arrangement unless something drastic happens.

Kathryn Dennis
Kathryn Dennis and her children. Allison Michael Orenstein

“[Ravenel and Dennis’] problems don’t relate to their legal decision-making, so an order you might see coming out of this is the parents will continue to co-parent their time equally, depending on work schedules and they will work together to co-parent,” says Mindel. “It’s not likely that either parent will be excluded from seeing the children. I think the judge will say ‘Both of you have significant issues you have to resolve, so these children need to have someone with them 24/7, besides the two of you’.”

On Sept. 25, 2018, Ravenel was arrested and charged with assault and battery in the second degree, four months after Nanny Dawn accused him of rape. Following his arrest, Dennis filed for primary custody, but the latest ruling came in August when the former couple were awarded joint temporary custody of their two children.

A judge will make a final custody ruling at a future time.

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