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Hayden Panettiere's Ex-Boyfriend Pleads Not Guilty To Multiple Felony Assault Charges
“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,” Hayden Panettiere said on social media.
Hayden Panettiere’s ex-boyfriend has pleaded not guilty to a string of felony assault charges brought against him last week in Los Angeles.
Brian Hickerson, 31, entered the plea during an arraignment on Friday, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office confirmed to PEOPLE.
Hickerson is facing eight charges connected to a series of allegedly abusive incidents between May 2019 and January 2020. They include four felony charges of corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant; a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon which identifies the weapon as a “garage floor;” another felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon which lists “stairs” as the weapon; and a misdemeanor charge of battery on a spouse/cohabitant, according to a criminal indictment obtained by the news outlet.
He is also facing a charge of dissuading a witness from prosecuting a crime after authorities said he tried to prevent Panettiere from cooperating with authorities.
Hickerson was arrested on Thursday and is being held on a $350,000 bond.
Shortly after his arrest, Panettiere took to Twitter to address the allegations of abuse and thank her supporters.
“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 wrote. “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.”
She also encouraged others who have been victims of domestic violence to seek help.
Panettiere’s attorney Alan Jackson also addressed the allegations in a statement, saying his client had been “the victim of psychological, emotional and severe physical abuse” for years, according to “Good Morning America.”
He said the “Nashville” and “Heroes” actress planned to cooperate with the prosecution in the case against her former boyfriend.
"Hayden has found the strength and courage to share the truth about her abuse and her abuser," he said. "As a survivor, she recognizes that her arduous journey of healing has just begun.”
Earlier this year, Hickerson was also arrested and charged with domestic battery in Jackson, Wyoming on Valentine’s Day after authorities said he punched the actress in the face, according to court documents obtained by TMZ.
He has pleaded not guilty in that case as well.
A source told US Weekly that after severing the relationship with Hickerson, Panettiere is now in a “good place” and “on the path to recovery.”
“She and Brian haven’t had contact,” the source said. “He’s moved back to his hometown in South Carolina, and friends are praying this is the end of her journey with him.”
Another source told the outlet that she had been finding ways to move forward.
“She’s moving ahead with her life and getting back to working in Hollywood and being creative again,” the source said. “It’s all very therapeutic for her.”
A source close to the actress told “GMA” she had received treatment for alcohol abuse issues and is now focusing on her sobriety.
Panettiere is also the mother to a 5-year-old daughter, Kaya, who is currently living with her father, Wladimir Kitschko, in Ukraine, PEOPLE reports.
Panettiere and Kitschko had been engaged before her relationship with Hickerson began.