A Portland-based social worker continued to work for months after state regulators first received a complaint accusing him of having a sexual relationship with a client.

Kelly F. O’Rourke, 51, was arrested July 1, six months after a complaint was filed with the Maine State Board of Social Worker Licensure. He continued to practice during that time and his license was still active as of Monday.

O’Rourke’s attorney confirmed to the Portland Press Herald that his client has been charged with a felony based on allegations that O’Rourke had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a client. He was charged under Maine’s gross sexual assault law, which makes it a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, for a social worker to engage in a sexual act with a current client.

A background check turned up no criminal record for O’Rourke in Maine.

Rob Andrews, O’Rourke’s attorney in both the license and criminal cases, confirmed that a complaint had been filed against his client with the licensing board but declined to discuss details of either the complaint or the criminal charge, or to discuss the nature of O’Rourke’s relationship with the victim other than to say she was known to him.

“He has some 30 years of history in the state of Maine, and as I understand it, (he) has a stellar reputation,” Andrews said.

No further information about the criminal case was available – documents filed in Cumberland County Unified Criminal Court in Portland supporting the arrest have been sealed from public view.

But in an interview with the Press Herald, a woman who identified herself as O’Rourke’s victim blasted the Maine State Board of Social Worker Licensure for failing to take action against him. She said she knows multiple people filed complaints concerning O’Rourke’s conduct with her. The number of complaints filed with the licensing board against O’Rourke could not be confirmed.

“I don’t understand how it’s possible that a licensing board can hold on to this for several months, when the complaints are so specific,” said the woman, 40, of Portland. “How can they not respond?”

The woman is not identified in publicly available documents, but an intermediary put her in touch with the newspaper. She did not want to go into detail about her experience with O’Rourke except to say he has caused her a lot of emotional pain, especially over the past year.

“This has been absolutely devastating, catastrophic to my life,” she said.

The Press Herald’s policy is not to identify victims of sexual assault without their consent, and the woman requested anonymity.

Although the licensing board deliberates in public, the names attached to complaints, including the licensed professional accused of misconduct, are kept private while the case is pending. Andrews said he is not aware of any date set by the board to hear the complaint against O’Rourke.

“Complaint information is considered confidential until either a hearing is scheduled, a consent agreement is signed, or the case is dismissed,” said Doug Dunbar, a spokesman with the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, the agency that oversees the board’s work. Once disciplinary action is finalized for an ethics violation, the names of social workers who are disciplined and the reasons for the discipline become public in a document published on the board’s website.

O’Rourke could have his license suspended or revoked if he committed an ethics violation.

The seven-member licensing board meets monthly and consists of five licensed clinical social workers and two public board members.

According to the licensing board’s policies, sexual misconduct by a social worker “exploits the social worker-client relationship in a sexual way” and is subject to disciplinary action.

A “major sexual violation” includes sexual intercourse between a social worker and patient, other sex acts, inappropriate touching and offering to perform services in exchange for sexual favors. A “minor sexual violation” would include any “words, gestures, expressions or behaviors by the social worker that are seductive, sexually suggestive, sexualized or sexually demeaning” to the patient. O’Rourke’s license was listed as “active” Monday on the licensing board’s website, with no citations recorded against it. Asked why the board had taken no action, Dunbar declined to speak specifically about O’Rourke’s case, citing confidentiality rules.

“Each investigation is different,” he said in a statement. “Some can be processed relatively quickly. Others take longer for a variety of reasons.”

Andrews, O’Rourke’s attorney, said he was first contacted by O’Rourke in February, after one of the complaints was filed with the licensing board. Andrews’ initial role was to represent O’Rourke in that matter, which Andrews described as an allegation of inappropriate conduct.

The allegations in the criminal case are similar to those in the licensing complaint, Andrews said, but he declined to be specific.

O’Rourke most recently has been working at KidsPeace, a nonprofit that offers mental and behavioral healthcare services for young people, and operates facilities in 10 states, including Maine and the District of Columbia.

Bob Martin, the corporate spokesman for KidsPeace, said O’Rourke has worked at the agency’s South Portland facility since March, and was placed on administrative leave Monday. He said the organization performs criminal background checks on prospective employees.

Martin said KidsPeace’s top priority is the safety of its clients, and the organization has vowed to investigate the accusations against O’Rourke. “We take this very, very seriously,” he said.

Asked whether KidsPeace was aware of the allegations against O’Rourke before a reporter called the Pennsylvania organization Monday afternoon, Martin demurred.

“I’ll have to decline to comment on that,” he said.