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Hayden Panettiere's ex-boyfriend arrested on felony assault charges

Brian Hickerson has been charged with multiple felonies in connection with multiple alleged domestic violence incidents involving the actress.
/ Source: TODAY

The ex-boyfriend of actress Hayden Panettiere has been arrested and charged with seven felony counts in relation to a series of alleged domestic violence incidents involving the former "Nashville" star.

Brian Hickerson, 31, was arrested Thursday by the Los Angeles Police Department and charged in an eight-count criminal complaint regarding a series of alleged abusive instances that occurred between May 2019 and January 2020, according to the criminal complaint obtained by NBC News.

Four of the felony counts are defined as injury to a spouse/co-habitant, and two are for assault with a deadly weapon. The deadly weapons were defined as a garage floor and stairs, according to the complaint. He also was charged with one count of misdemeanor battery on a spouse/co-habitant.

Build Presents Charles Esten & Hayden Panettiere Discussing "Nashville"
The ex-boyfriend of actress Hayden Panettiere has been arrested and faces felony charges related to alleged domestic violence incidents involving the actress. Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images

He was also charged with a felony for dissuading a witness from prosecuting a crime. He tried 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 the complaint.

Panettiere, 30, also filed on Tuesday to register an out-of-state restraining order obtained in Wyoming to be enforced in California against Hickerson, according to court documents obtained by NBC News.

"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," Panettiere said in a statement to TODAY. "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."

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Hickerson’s bail is set at $320,000, according to the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. He was arraigned Friday, and pled not guilty, according to the L.A. District Attorney’s Office. A preliminary hearing is set for July 30.

Hickerson did not immediately respond to TODAY’s request for comment, and it was not immediately clear whether Hickerson retained an attorney.

Panettiere's attorney, Alan Jackson, also provided a statement to TODAY.

"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," he said. "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."

Panettiere has reported alleged domestic violence incidents by Hickerson to the LAPD, Teton County Sheriff in Wyoming and Santa Monica Police Department from their 18 months together, the source said.

Hickerson was arrested by the Teton County Sheriff's Office on Valentine's Day after officers responded to a disturbance at a residence in Jackson, Wyoming, according to court documents. Panettiere told police that she and Hickerson were arguing and he "struck her with a closed fist on the right side of her face," according to the police report.

Police said Panettiere's face was red and swollen, and she also had a scrape and swelling on her left hand, according to the report. He was charged with a pair of misdemeanors, domestic battery and interference with a cop, and his trial is scheduled for September after he pleaded not guilty in April.

Panettiere wrote in her petition for an order of protection in Wyoming that similar incidents have occurred in California and Puerto Rico. Panettiere wrote that "generally when alcohol is involved," Hickerson "pulls my hair, swings me around, and hits me, spits in my face and has dumped water over me while I'm in bed," according to documents filed to have her restraining order enforced in California.

Panettiere was previously engaged to Wladimir Klitschko, with whom she has a 5-year-old daughter, Kaya.