Brian Hickerson served 13 days in jail in May after pleading no contest to two felony counts of injuring the actress

By Ally Mauch
July 21, 2021 02:13 PM
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Hayden Panettiere has been spending time with ex-boyfriend Brian Hickerson after he recently served time in jail for a domestic violence case involving the star.

On Saturday, the former couple was seen at a new Sunset Strip eatery, Justin Queso's, PEOPLE can confirm. And on Tuesday, they returned to the restaurant to watch the NBA finals.

A source tells PEOPLE Hickerson is "in intensive therapy treatment."

"Hayden won't forget what he did but she wants to forgive and move on," the source says. "Hayden is sober and doing very well."

Hickerson, 32, was sentenced in April to 45 days in jail after pleading no contest to two felony counts of injuring a spouse/cohabitant/girlfriend/child's parent, the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office confirmed to PEOPLE at the time. He served his sentence from May 7 through May 20, jail records show.

In addition to jail time, Hickerson was sentenced to four years of formal probation, 52 domestic violence classes, $500 in restitution and a five-year protective order for injuring Panettiere, 31. 

Regarding the protective order, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office tells PEOPLE it "does not prohibit the defendant and the victim from amicably interacting with each other."

Brian Hickerson, Hayden Panettiere
Credit: Eric Charbonneau/Shutterstock

Of their recent reunion, Hickerson told E! News that he and Panettiere are "working on a friendship."

"To clarify, I was enjoying a Miller 'Latte' [slang for Miller Lite], and Hayden was not drinking," he said. "We went to a new restaurant that is Texas-based, and being a Southern guy, I'm a big fan of country music. So yes, there was some line dancing involved. Hayden and I are not back together but are working on a friendship."

He continued, "We have a long history together, and the first step in my recovery as an abuser is making amends. That's exactly what Hayden has been gracious enough to allow me to do."

Hickerson did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment on Wednesday.

Hayden Panettiere, Brian Hickerson
Hayden Panettiere, Brian Hickerson
| Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage; Brian Hickerson/Instagram

Panettiere and Hickerson were first linked in 2018, after reports circulated that she and then-fiancé Wladimir Klitschko had split. The charges that landed Hickerson in jail this year stemmed from allegedly abusive incidents between May 2019 and January 2020. 

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 the actress.

He pleaded not guilty to one count of felony domestic violence later that month; the case was dismissed in September 2019. 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."

In February 2020, Hickerson was again 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 of that year. 

In June 2020, according to a criminal complaint obtained by PEOPLE, Hickerson 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."

Following Hickerson's arrest in July 2020, the actress addressed the alleged abuse she faced at the hands of her ex-boyfriend 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."

In March of this year, a source told PEOPLE that Panettiere was in a "wonderful headspace."

"Things are so much better and she's really excited about her future. She's got a few projects in the works," said the source, who also said Panettiere was spending time with daughter Kaya, 6, whom she shares with Klitschko, 45.

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.