A Portland clinical social worker charged with gross sexual assault for having a sexual relationship with a patient – a felony under Maine law – has agreed not to practice until the criminal charges are resolved, according to his attorney.

Despite a complaint filed against Kelly F. O’Rourke, 51, in January with the Maine State Board of Social Worker Licensure alleging an inappropriate sexual relationship with a patient, O’Rourke was allowed to continue his practice because the licensing board had not taken up the allegations six months after they were filed.

O’Rourke was arrested July 1 on the gross sexual assault charge stemming from the same circumstances alleged in the complaint.

Following a Press Herald story Tuesday detailing the charges against O’Rourke and the sluggish response by licensing authorities, the board scheduled a meeting for Monday, July 18 – 10 days after its most recent meeting – to take up the matter. The board agenda lists only one action, a complaint against an unidentified licensee.

O’Rourke’s attorney, Rob Andrews, said the O’Rourke is the subject of the meeting, and he expects the board to accept a consent agreement that will prevent his client from practicing until the charges are resolved.

“This agreement is temporary and it expires when the criminal case is resolved and it essentially puts the investigation with the licensing board on hold,” Andrews said.

Documents from the criminal case against O’Rourke have been sealed in Portland Unified Criminal Court.

O’Rourke was released July 8 from Cumberland County Jail on $1,000 cash bail after making a first court appearance. Because the charge is a felony, he cannot be arraigned until a Cumberland County Grand Jury hands down an indictment, which Andrews expects to come in August. O’Rourke does not have a criminal record in Maine.

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

The seven-member licensing board meets monthly, so the second gathering in July is unusual.

Although no information was available through court records about O’Rourke’s alleged criminal conduct, a woman who identified herself as O’Rourke’s victim and who agreed to be interviewed by the Press Herald said she was outraged that the board had failed to act, months after it was notified of a serious ethical and criminal infraction.

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.

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.

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.

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 the concludes he committed an ethics violation. The panel 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.

O’Rourke had previously worked at Maine Behavioral Healthcare. His most recent employer before his arrest was KidsPeace in South Portland, a non-profit that provides behavioral health to children and adults.

A spokesman for KidsPeace said the agency was not aware of the charges against O’Rourke until it was contacted by the Press Herald, and immediately after learning of the charges, KidsPeace placed O’Rourke on administrative leave.