A Portland-based clinical social worker accused of having a sexual relationship with a client entered into a consent agreement Monday with the Maine State Board of Social Worker Licensure that prevents him from practicing while a criminal case against him is pending.

Kelly F. O’Rourke, 51, was arrested July 1 for felony gross sexual assault, a charge based on accusations that he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a client. Details of the case remain sealed in Portland Unified Criminal Court.

The licensing board received a complaint in January about O’Rourke regarding the alleged sexual relationship, according to Rob Andrews, O’Rourke’s attorney.

The victim in the case told the Press Herald on July 11, when the case first became public, that she was upset the licensing board had delayed hearing the case for six months. She said the severity of the accusations should have led to a quicker turnaround by the licensing board.

The victim did not wish to be identified publicly, and the Press Herald’s policy is to not name victims of sexual assault without their consent. The victim, 40, of Portland, declined to comment further when reached Monday.

Andrews said he couldn’t comment on whether the publicity surrounding the case – the story became public July 12 – spurred the licensing board into action.

The consent agreement does not sanction O’Rourke, but prevents him from practicing while the criminal case makes its way through the courts, Andrews said. The agreement expires when the criminal case is resolved.

The consent agreement also referred to O’Rourke having “potentially committed other disciplinary violations with that client” but did not specify what the violations might have been.

Doug Dunbar, a spokesman with the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, the agency that oversees the board’s work, wrote in an email response to questions from the Press Herald that the case was an “ongoing matter” and that he was “not aware that outside attention impacted the process.”

A social worker having sex with a client is considered a “major sexual violation” and would place a social worker’s license in jeopardy, according to the licensing board’s policies.

Andrews has described O’Rourke as having a “stellar reputation.”

“From our perspective, this gives us an opportunity to sort out what is fact and what is fiction,” Andrews said. “The facts are not clear and still subject to a court process.”

Andrews said the agreement means that O’Rourke could potentially practice again as a social worker depending on the outcome of the criminal case.

Andrews said he expects a grand jury indictment against O’Rourke in August.

O’Rourke had most recently worked at KidsPeace, a nonprofit that offers mental and behavioral healthcare services for young people, but has been placed on administrative leave, officials have told the Press Herald.

Joe Lawlor can be contacted at 791-6376 or at:

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