The actress' boyfriend Brian Hickerson is facing a felony charge in connection with an alleged domestic violence incident

By Linda Marx Aurelie Corinthios
July 15, 2019 02:34 PM
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UPDATE: A lawyer for Hayden Panettiere tells People that the actress regularly sees her daughter and that Panettiere has not communicated recently with Brian Hickerson.

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Hayden Panettiere‘s relationship with Brian Hickerson is still concerning her friends and family, a source tells PEOPLE.

As Hickerson faces a felony charge in connection with an alleged domestic violence incident, a source says Panettiere’s loved ones “are begging her to straighten up and move ahead.”

“It is totally out of control and she has to get over this guy,” the source says.

“Her friends and family have been worried about her for quite a while, and things seem to have gotten worse,” the source adds. “She needs to do some soul-searching… It’s a sad situation.”

The Nashville star, 29, was first linked to the aspiring actor last August, shortly after reports circulated that she and then-fiancé Wladimir Klitschko (the father of her 4-year-old daughter Kaya) had split.

According to a lawyer for Panettiere, she and Hickerson have not been in communication recently.

“Hayden needs to surround herself with different types of people and get a hand on both her personal and professional life,” the source says. “It’s hard to imagine things getting any worse, but they could.”

Kaya has apparently been living in Ukraine with Klitschko, 43, ever since their breakup, although the actress sees her daughter regularly, according to a lawyer for Panettiere. In February, she posted a photo from vacation with her little girl.

“Her life is in flux with her daughter living away, and she has other issues weighing on her mind,” the source says.

A second insider tells PEOPLE that their “heart breaks for what Hayden must be going through.”

“Hayden is a wonderful and talented girl who was so happy with her family,” the insider says. “I hope she can wade through whatever has gone wrong and get her life back together.”

Panettiere could not be reached for comment. Hickerson’s lawyer did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Hickerson, 30, was arrested on a domestic violence charge on May 2 and released on bail. 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.

RELATED: Judge Issues Protective Order Against Hayden Panettiere’s Boyfriend Brian Hickerson After Arrest

Last week, 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.

The judge also detailed the alleged abuse.

“I understand he has no record, but the problem I have, counsel, is that this was not the first attack,” the judge said, according to Radar. “Just very recently, prior to this in Puerto Rico, something happened … and those are the marks on the victim. This happened twice this time. It wasn’t enough for him to cause her nose to bleed by hitting her with an open palm … he followed her into the bedroom and was the aggressor again, causing that severe swelling and bruising on the cheek and marks on her neck. Give that, in my mind, the evidence has shown these are three different attacks by your client on this victim, once in Puerto Rico and twice that night … I’m going to hold him on the felony.”

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

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

Sources previously told PEOPLE the relationship is a source of concern among Panettiere’s friends and family. (Last November, they were reportedly involved in a drunken altercation with Hickerson’s dad.) However, the star had her issues long before Hickerson came into the picture; she struggled with postpartum depression after welcoming Kaya, seeking treatment in rehab in 2015.

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.

(This article has been updated since its original publication.)

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