The 46-year-old mother asked the teenagers what sort of booze they wanted to ring in 2021 and then got it for them, investigators in California say. As the New Year’s party started, she turned to one of them with a suggestion.
The 14-year-old girl, the woman allegedly said, should “hook up with everyone at the party.”
During that get-together, Shannon O’Connor was sitting near that 14-year-old in a hot tub when a drunk teenage boy touched the girl’s genitals, prosecutors allege in court documents. Later, the same girl came out of the bathroom after a boy had followed her there. Crying, she told the woman 32 years her senior, “He made me bleed.”
O’Connor laughed at her, prosecutors say.
The New Year’s party at her house in Los Gatos, a wealthy community in the heart of Silicon Valley, was one of at least a half-dozen get-togethers O’Connor – the mother of two teenage boys – hosted or organized over the course of a year, prosecutors allege. At the parties, she provided alcohol to as many as 20 teenagers at a time, gave them condoms, pushed them to binge drink and goaded them into sex acts – some of them nonconsensual and some that she watched – all while persuading them to keep everything secret, prosecutors said.
O’Connor, who is now 47 and who also goes by the name Shannon Bruga, has been charged with 39 crimes, including felony child abuse, sexual assault and giving alcohol to minors. She was arrested in her new home of Eagle, Idaho, and is locked up at a Boise jail. Authorities in Santa Clara County, where the alleged crimes occurred, plan to extradite and prosecute her in California.
“It took a lot of brave children to come forward and to untangle this deeply disturbing case,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen wrote in a statement. “As a parent, I’m shocked. As the DA, I’m determined to hold those adults who endanger children fully accountable to the law and our community.”
O’Connor was arraigned on Tuesday in Boise, but it’s unclear when her next hearing is scheduled. The Ada County public defender’s office, which represented O’Connor at court hearings this week, did not immediately respond to an email from The Washington Post early Thursday.
In court documents, Santa Clara County prosecutors painted O’Connor as a middle-aged parent who repeatedly organized parties for her eldest son and his friends via text and Snapchat, and then provided the alcohol the teenagers would drink until they vomited or passed out. At the parties, O’Connor allegedly designated rooms where the teens could have sex. She then told girls to go into certain rooms where she knew boys were waiting, court documents state. If the girls refused, the documents add, she cajoled them until they did.
O’Connor also helped teenagers sneak out of their homes in the middle of the night and gave them rides so they could attend her parties, prosecutors allege.
During a party in the summer of 2020, a 14-year-old boy got so drunk off the alcohol allegedly provided by O’Connor, he threw up all over himself. When one of the only sober children at the party, a 13- or 14-year-old girl, asked O’Connor if they should call 911, she allegedly said no. Instead, the woman left the teen in the girl’s care, court records state. And at the New Year’s party, a 14-year-old girl told investigators she drank so much while she was in the hot tub that she felt like she was repeatedly “drowning,” unable to keep her head above water.
Prosecutors outlined measures O’Connor took to avoid getting caught. She allegedly persuaded the teens to lie to their parents about the parties and even lied to the parents herself. Two days before she hosted a Halloween party for some 20 teens, court documents state, she called police to warn them that her neighbors frequently complained to authorities and asked that they call her if anyone reported a problem before sending officers. She allegedly told the department she was instructing partygoers not to answer the door unless police called her ahead of time.
O’Connor also took steps to keep her husband in the dark, prosecutors said. Before the Halloween party, she “schemed” to get him out of the house for a few hours so the party could begin. The teens knew they had to wait for him to leave before they could start drinking. At a previous party, she allegedly rushed drunk teens out of her house when she realized her husband was coming home.
When O’Connor suspected one teen was telling outsiders about her secret parties, she threatened to spread rumors about the girl and persuaded other teens to harass her, according to court documents. As a result, the records state, the girl “suffered mental and emotional turmoil” in the form of panic attacks and had to sleep in her parents’ bedroom.
Several teens got hurt during O’Connor’s get-togethers, prosecutors said. At the Halloween party, a 14-year-old girl broke her right pinkie finger, which required surgery. And on Dec. 19, a teenage boy fell off the back of O’Connor’s SUV. O’Connor had allegedly given her 15-year-old son and two of his friends alcohol, driven them to a high school parking lot and then encouraged one of them – an unlicensed teen – to drive while the other two tried to hang onto the outside of the vehicle. One lost his grip, fell, hit his head and got knocked out for 20 to 30 seconds, court records state. He was eventually diagnosed with a severe concussion.
O’Connor had been known as “the cool mom” since her older son was in middle school, but her behavior escalated in the summer of 2020 as he was entering his freshman year in high school, the Mercury News reported.
O’Connor and her husband, a tech executive, put their $4.7 million home up for sale sometime in 2020 and went to Idaho at the end of the school year, according to the Mercury News. The couple – along with their 15-year-old son and 13-year-old middle-schooler – recently moved into a rental home while waiting for the Los Gatos property to sell.
The mother of a teenage girl who allegedly attended one of O’Connor’s parties told the Mercury News she’s heartbroken about what her daughter and others experienced.
“It’s been devastating,” she said. “It’s a worst nightmare for a parent.”