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A rural Rio man faces a child sexual assault charge after investigators said he fondled a 15-year-old girl in July.

Ty S. Kearney, 21, appeared last week in Columbia County Circuit Court.

He is free on a $5,000 signature bond on a charge of felony second-degree sexual assault of a child. The charge’s maximum penalty is 25 years in prison as an initial sentence.

Kearney was charged in July after investigators said he fondled and had sexual contact with the girl.

According to a criminal complaint, Kearney admitted to the sexual contact, saying that he thought the girl was 16 years old.

Kearney was ordered not to have contact with the girl.

The case is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Dec. 18.