Hayden Panettiere and Ex-Boyfriend's Brother Are Just 'Friends' Despite Holding Hands: Source

Hayden Panettiere's then-boyfriend Brian Hickerson was arrested in May on a domestic violence charge

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In the wake of Hayden Panettiere‘s allegedly abusive relationship with Brian Hickerson, the actress was spotted holding hands with his brother, Zach, on a stroll in New York City.

In photos obtained by In Touch Weekly, the Nashville alumna, 30, smiled as she gripped hands with Zach on Sept. 4.

“Hayden and Zach are friends and have been for a while,” a source tells PEOPLE. The source also confirms that Panettiere and Hickerson broke up and have not communicated since a judge issued a protective order against him in May.

A rep for Panettiere did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Panettiere and Hickerson began dating after reports circulated that she and then-fiancé Wladimir Klitschko had split in August 2018. Klitschko, 43, and Panettiere share daughter, Kaya, 4, who lives in Ukraine with her father.

While the relationship between Panettiere and Hickerson began as a fling, it was quickly questioned by those close to the Heroes alumna, especially after the couple was reportedly involved in a drunken altercation with Hickerson’s father, prompting a visit from police. And in May, Hickerson was arrested on a domestic violence charge and released on bail.

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According to the felony complaint obtained by PEOPLE, prosecutors allege Hickerson “willfully inflicted corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon Hayden P.”

Hickerson was charged with one count of felony domestic violence on May 23 and pleaded not guilty to the charge, a spokesperson for the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office confirmed to PEOPLE at the time.

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In July, according to RadarOnline, Hickerson appeared in court as a Los Angeles superior judge listened to testimony from the police officer who responded to the domestic violence call on May 2. During the hearing, the judge denied the motion to dismiss criminal charges against Hickerson and declined to consider a lesser misdemeanor charge.

Panettiere’s family exclusively told PEOPLE, “We are hopeful that the judge makes the right decision. It’s an important message in terms of domestic violence for all women.”

If convicted, Hickerson faces up to four years in prison.

If you suspect 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.

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