The duo was spotted enjoying each other's company last month, just weeks after the 32-year-old was released after serving 13 days behind bars for allegedly punching Panettiere in the face during a violent argument in 2020.
As OK! previously reported, the pair reportedly partied it up with a group of pals in West Hollywood, Calif — however, Hickerson set the record straight after their night out made headlines. "Hayden and I are not back together but are working on a friendship," he told E News. "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."
A long history, indeed. Hickerson was previously sentenced to jail time after pleading no contest in April to two felony counts of injuring a spouse or girlfriend. He was also arrested on six other counts, which included battery, assault with a deadly weapon and dissuading a witness, but they were all were dismissed. The charges stemmed from Hickerson's arrest in May 2019 after an incident between him and the Heroes actress.
In February 2020, he was arrested again in Wyoming for allegedly punching Panettiere in the face during an argument. He pleaded not guilty, and Panettiere was granted a restraining order in July 2020.
At the time, Panettiere issued a statement to PEOPLE, telling the outlet, "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. 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."
Now, "Hayden swears she's not getting back together with Bryan and is just trying to support him now that he’s on probation and getting counseling,” a source tells OK!. “But it’s very alarming.”
The source adds friends and family are “begging” Hayden, 31 — who shares daughter Kaya, 6, with ex Wladimir Klitschko — to cut him out of her life for good.
“They’re afraid history is going to repeat itself,” adds the source. “But Brian’s got this hold on Hayden, and there’s no talking sense into her. She just can’t seem to quit him.”