Authorities in Essex County have charged a former Drug Enforcement Agency agent with sexually abusing a developmentally delayed teenage girl.

Thomas Sheehan of Nutley was arrested Thursday.

The 71-year-old is charged with sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child and aggravated assault. The sexual assault charge carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.

The Essex County Prosecutor's Office says Sheehan abused the girl from the time she was 12 years old.

The most recent instance of abuse allegedly occurred last month. The girl is now 17.

Sheehan posted $100,000 bail and was released. It was not known if he had retained an attorney. A voicemail message left on a number listed for Sheehan in Nutley was not returned Thursday.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)