by AMY FEINSTEIN || Police in Charleston, South Carolina have confirmed they are investigating sexual assault allegations against Southern Charm star Thomas Ravenel (breaking news which was first reported by FITSNews).
Now the woman who spoke with police is breaking her silence in the hopes of empowering victims of sexual assault to come forward.
The original nanny – known to Southern Charm fans as “Nanny Dawn” – confirmed exclusively to FITSNews this week that she is the woman who went to detectives on Monday to detail what police termed allegations of “forcible rape” and a “sex offense” involving Ravenel. With these new allegations, the city of Charleston police department has now joined Bravo TV and Southern Charm production company Haymaker in investigating a sexual assault settlement allegedly made by Ravenel in 2016 after a reported December 2015 assault at his home.
News of that alleged settlement was also first reported by this news site.
The first nanny who worked for Ravenel and Kathryn Dennis – caring for their firstborn, Kensington Calhoun Ravenel (Kensie), and later St. Julien Rembert Ravenel (Saint) – Dawn has asked FITSNews to use only her first name, and to tell her story in such a way so that others might be emboldened to go to the police with their own stories.
Dawn, 43, explains that she was inspired by Ashley Perkins – a Florida model/ real estate agent. Last month Perkins came forward to share the story of her mother, who says Ravenel sexually assaulted her in December 2015 after the two met on Tinder. Perkins says that she sat in on a mediation session after which the 55-year-old ex-politician paid her mother $200,000 in exchange for her sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Perkins – who says she was never gagged by such an agreement – believes Ravenel has not been properly punished for the assault.
(To read her exclusive interview, click here).
Dawn says she is ready to pay it forward and tell her own story – and she was empowered by the fact that Perkins came forward in April, which was Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
“This is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, and I don’t even know if he (Ravenel) will be charged, but I need to let others know they aren’t alone,” Dawn said.
Dawn is braced for questions about why she didn’t come forward sooner, and the professional baby nurse – who is now back in school seeking her master’s degree as a psychiatric nurse practitioner specializing in perinatal mood disorders – says that there are several reasons including the shameful statistics on rape in the United States.
Dawn explains that the statistics shared by Dr. Barbara Ziv, the forensic psychiatrist who testified about educating juries in the case which convicted Bill Cosby were alarming and didn’t inspire confidence that Ravenel would even be charged by police.
Dr. Ziv explains that a large majority of sexual assault victims – 85 percent – know their attacker. Women who are sexually assaulted by someone they know have trouble understanding that someone they knew before the assault did something so horrible to them. After the attack, they often try to rationalize the event, trying to make sense of something that “doesn’t make sense.”
Dr. Ziv says it’s a misconception that women immediately respond to sexual assault with hatred for an attacker, but this isn’t true.
“The first response usually is self-blame,” she says.
Dawn also shares statistics from the organization RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) which says that every 98 seconds, another person is sexually assaulted, and only six out of every 1000 rapists actually go to prison.
(Click to view)
But Dawn explains that what really kept her quiet was the handling of accusations by hairstylist Lauren Moser against Ravenel in October 2014. Moser, who was a friend of Dennis, taped Ravenel’s behavior that night. Still, Charleston police failed to charge Ravenel – who fell into their pool in a home on Charlotte Street during the outburst while holding baby Kensie.
Dawn first met Ravenel and Dennis approximately six weeks after the birth of Kensie after friends of the couple referred her for a position as a private duty baby nurse for Ravenel. At the time the family was living at his Edisto Island plantation. Dawn said Ravenel had suggested she must know them from Southern Charm, but she said she didn’t, as she generally didn’t watch television at that time
“I immediately took Kathryn and Kensie under my wing,” Dawn says. “Kensie was always a pleasure, and I still adore her and Saint.”
Dawn explains that while she worked for Ravenel, the couple moved from the Edisto Island property onto Charlotte Street in Charleston into a friend’s carriage house – where they lived until their breakup in October 2014 (when Dennis and Kensie moved out).
Dawn explained that by the time Kensie was one, she had lived in four places. During this time she continued to care for Kensie and help out when Ravenel was living at the Charlotte Street address.
In January 2015, Dawn reported for work and Ravenel headed to dinner with friends.
“I put Kensie to bed, and headed to the kitchen to make fresh baby food and wash and sterilize bottles,” she says. “That was when I heard Thomas enter the house just before midnight.”
Dawn explains that Ravenel turned off the lights, and she called out that she was working in the kitchen and needed light. At that point, she says Ravenel entered the kitchen and attempted to kiss her. She rebuffed his advances, but that didn’t stop him from assaulting her – despite her protestations and despite her repeatedly telling him “no.”
What followed was a violent attack – the details of which Dawn is choosing not to share in this forum (but which have been provided to Charleston police).
“I didn’t want to scream and scare Kensie, but I told him no repeatedly,” she says.
(Click to view)
Dawn says she eventually got away from Ravenel – exiting the house and driving away. Dawn says that on the way home, she called her husband and her sister, and that while she was on the phone, Ravenel called, and she answered the phone.
Afterward, Dawn says she was ashamed and struggled with a range of emotions – including whether to tell Kathryn. As Dr. Biv had explained above, Dawn went through stages of grief, trying to navigate the next few months as most victims do after an assault. Several weeks later she says Ravenel apologized saying “I’m sorry for attacking you, it’ll never happen again, it’s not necessary to bring chaperones.”
After Saint was born in November of 2015 the working relationship between Dawn and Ravenel continued to be strained and Dennis had noticed, and was asking questions.
“Kathryn was pressing me for answers, and I finally broke down and told her about the assault,” Dawn recalls.
Dennis then confronted Ravenel, she says, which only intensified the strained relationship – including intense victim-shaming. Dawn said Ravenel would often “butt-dial” her, and she could overhear him telling others that she was doing her job poorly, that she was fat, and that she was “poor white trash.”
In February 2017, as her reputation was being smeared, Dawn says she decided to take a polygraph exam to prove that she was telling the truth about the alleged assault. Andrew Goldstein performed the polygraph test – which Dawn passed. Goldstein also told Dawn if she ever needed her results verified in court, he would testify on her behalf.
When Dawn met with Charleston police on Monday, she told them about her passed polygraph exam – and offered to take another one at the headquarters of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) in Columbia, S.C.
She also issued a challenge to Ravenel.
“I will take another polygraph test there at any time as long as Thomas Ravenel is willing to do the same,” she says. “I would welcome the chance to take my reputation back.”
Amy Feinstein is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and has been writing professionally for 25 years. She has a degree in English literature and a degree in British history. Amy enjoys writing about entertainment, sports, lifestyle, television and movies. When not at the computer, Amy can be found in the garden or at yoga class.
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