What’s going on here? On September 4, Hayden Panettiere was spotted holding hands with Zach Hickerson — the brother of her boyfriend, Brian Hickerson — in New York City, just three months after Brian was arrested for domestic violence. Hayden, 30, and Zach appeared to be in great spirits while walking and talking together in photos exclusively obtained by In Touch, despite the restraining order against Brian, 30, after his physical altercation with Hayden in May. But even though Hayden and Zach seemed cozy during their stroll, a family source close to the Hickersons insists to In Touch that their relationship is “not romantic.”
“Hayden and Zach are just friends. They have been friends for as long as she’s been dating Brian; Zach and Brian are close,” the insider exclusively tells In Touch. “Zach was in NYC for a job interview and he linked up with Hayden who was already in town. They were just goofing off and holding hands as friends. At one point, she was jumping up and down making funny faces, and he was flexing his muscles and laughing. They looked happy together.”
It seems like Hayden is keeping close to Brian’s family until their legal issues are resolved. On May 2, Brian was arrested for domestic violence after allegedly hitting the Nashville star. Brian only spent a few hours in jail and was released after posting his $50,000 bail, according to court records obtained by In Touch.
On May 23, a Los Angeles County judge issued a protective order against Brian, preventing him from coming within 100 yards of the actress. A prosecutor claimed Hayden sustained injuries from the incident and had bruises on her arms, ear, and neck area. “He hit her on the face, causing her to get dizzy,” the prosecutor alleged during the arraignment. The District Attorney also noted that there may have been other unreported instances of domestic violence between Brian and Hayden since they started dating in August 2018. Brian pleaded not guilty to the felony domestic violence charge at the arraignment, and he is scheduled to return to court on September 24 for a jury trial.
Despite all of the legal issues surrounding their relationship, the family source claims Brian and Hayden are still a couple. “It’s hard on Brian that he can’t be in public with Hayden. He loves her,” the insider exclusively tells In Touch. “Brian says that he and Hayden have not broken up. They have never broken up.”
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