Hayden Panettiere's Ex Brian Hickerson Arrested and Charged with Felony Assault

The actress addressed the alleged abuse in a statement, saying she hopes her story "will empower others in abusive relationships to get the help they need and deserve"

Hayden Panettiere and Brian Hickerson.

Hayden Panettiere's ex-boyfriend Brian Hickerson has been charged with felony assault.

A criminal indictment obtained by PEOPLE establishes that Hickerson, 31, was arrested on Thursday on multiple felony charges, including four charges of corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant, two charges of assault, and one of intimidating a witness, Panettiere.

According to a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and inmate records, he currently remains in custody and is being held on a $320,000 bail.

Hickerson did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment. It was not immediately clear whether he has retained an attorney.

The criminal complaint outlines eight charges against Hickerson stemming from allegedly abusive incidents from May 2019 to January 2020. The charges include four felony charges of corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant; a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon, "to wit, garage floor"; a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon, "to wit, stairs"; and a misdemeanor charge of battery on a spouse/cohabitant.

Additionally, Hickerson was charged with dissuading a witness from prosecuting a crime, which is a felony. According to the complaint, on June 27, 2020, he attempted to "prevent and dissuade Hayden P., a victim and witness of a crime from causing a complaint, indictment, information, probation and parole violating to be sought and prosecuted and assisting in the prosecution thereof."

According to a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, his arraignment is scheduled for Monday.

A source familiar with the legal process tells PEOPLE, "Brian Hickerson was charged last night in an 8-count felony complaint alleging domestic violence and assault. Hayden reported to the Teton County Sheriff in Wyoming, the LAPD and the Santa Monica PD with multiple serious instances of extreme domestic violence perpetuated by [Hickerson] against Hayden during their year-and-a-half relationship."

Panettiere, 30, addressed the alleged abuse in a statement to PEOPLE.

"I am coming forward with the truth about what happened to me with the hope that my story will empower others in abusive relationships to get the help they need and deserve," she said. "I am prepared to do my part to make sure this man never hurts anyone again. I’m grateful for my support system, which helped me find the courage to regain my voice and my life."

Her attorney Alan Jackson issued the following statement: "After suffering for years as the victim of psychological, emotional and severe physical abuse, Hayden Panettiere has begun the process of taking back her life. Hayden has found the strength and courage to share the truth about her abuse and her abuser, and she intends to assist the prosecution to see that justice is served. As a survivor, she recognizes that her arduous journey of healing has just begun."

Hayden Panettiere
Hayden Panettiere. Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic

A source close to the actress tells PEOPLE the star is "taking this incredibly brave step as part of her recovery process."

"She has been undergoing successful treatment for alcohol abuse issues and is focused on healing, sobriety and recovery," the source says. "She wants to be honest about what happened in the hope that it may help someone else who is dealing with emotional abuse, intimidation or physical violence."

"This is a turning point for her as she stands up for herself, her family and the many other people impacted by intimate partner violence," the source adds.

A source confirmed to PEOPLE on Wednesday that Panettiere had filed to register an out-of-state restraining order against Hickerson in California.

The filing came nearly five months after Hickerson was arrested on Valentine's Day in Jackson, Wyoming. He was charged with domestic battery and interference with a cop, both misdemeanor charges in Wyoming, a spokesperson for the Teton County Sheriff's Office told PEOPLE at the time. According to court documents obtained by TMZ, Hickerson allegedly punched Panettiere "with a closed fist on the right side of her face."

Hickerson reportedly pleaded not guilty to the charge in April. A jury trial was reportedly scheduled for September.

In May 2019, Hickerson was arrested on a domestic violence charge and released on bail. According to the felony complaint obtained by PEOPLE at the time, prosecutors had alleged Hickerson "willfully inflicted corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon Hayden P."

He pleaded not guilty to one count of felony domestic violence later that month; the case was dismissed at the end of September. A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said at the time, "Our office was unable to proceed because we could not secure a material witness."

Panettiere and Hickerson started dating after reports circulated that she and then-fiancé Wladimir Klitschko had split in August 2018. Panettiere and Klitschko, 44, share daughter Kaya, 5, who lives in Ukraine with her father.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

Updated by
Julie Jordan
Julie Jordan Headshot

Julie Jordan is an Editor at Large for PEOPLE. She has been with the brand for 25 years, holding various roles in the Los Angeles Bureau including Associate Bureau Chief. In 2006, she relocated to the Midwest where she continues to cover all things entertainment and Hollywood, including celebrity covers, features and specials such as Sexiest Man Alive and the Beautiful Issue.

Prior to joining PEOPLE, Jordan freelanced for magazines such as SOUTHERN LIVING and graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism. She is well-versed in what it takes to be the Sexiest Man Alive (having interviewed 11 of them for their cover stories) and considers shooting a confetti cannon on-stage alongside Garth Brooks during his performance of "Friends in Low Places" a career highlight.

Related Articles