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The Columbus man arrested as a suspect in sexually assaulting two young girls in the 1990s pleaded Monday to a felony charge.

Terry L. Brace, 73, pleaded no contest Monday in Columbia County Circuit Court to felony repeated sexual assault of the same child. The charge carries a maximum initial penalty of 40 years in prison.

Brace is free on $5,000 cash bail. He was charged in December 2013.

Brace was arrested Dec. 23, 2013, after a three-month investigation by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and the Columbus Police Department.

According to a criminal complaint, investigators were told that Brace sexually abused a girl “hundreds of times” between 1990 and 1994 while she was between the ages of 7 and 11 years old, and a second girl in 2000 and 2001 while she was between the ages of 3 and 4 years old.

Investigators said Brace admitted to the assaults and cooperated with the investigation.

Judge Alan White ordered an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections into Brace’s past to take place before a sentencing hearing, which is set for March 13.