Los Gatos teen party scandal: Mom in South Bay jail, awaiting arraignment

The woman who garnered national notoriety after she was arrested and charged with throwing alcohol- and sex-filled parties for Los Gatos teens — in which authorities contend multiple underage sexual assaults occurred — is set to appear in a San Jose courtroom Wednesday to answer to more than three-dozen criminal counts.

Shannon O’Connor, aka Shannon Bruga, has been charged with child endangerment and sexual battery related to allegations she repeatedly furnished her son and other teens with alcohol for raucous parties at her Los Gatos home, and is now suspected of doing the same at her other homes in Idaho. (Ada County Sheriff’s Office) 

Shannon O’Connor, known by many locally as Shannon Bruga, was extradited from Ada County, Idaho, where she was initially arrested in the Boise suburb of Star on Oct. 9. She arrived in the Bay Area on Tuesday and was booked into the Elmwood women’s jail in Milpitas, where she is being held on $1 million bail pending her Wednesday afternoon arraignment, according to jail records.

O’Connor did not post bail overnight and is unlikely to have the opportunity to do so before she is transported to the Hall of Justice in San Jose for her initial local court appearance. Following her arrest in Idaho, she was held in jail on both $900,000 bail and an extradition hold based on the Santa Clara County arrest warrant issued for her.

It’s not immediately clear why her Santa Clara County bail is higher than what was set in Idaho. Her bail going forward, particularly whether the amount will change, and whether she will post bail, will be a point of focus for the Wednesday arraignment. Prosecutors were expected to argue that she be remanded to jail without bail, after parents of teens allegedly assaulted at the Los Gatos parties publicly voiced concerns about O’Connor being freed.

For that to happen, a judge would have to determine that O’Connor poses a public danger or significant flight risk upon release to deny her the ability to post bail.

O’Connor turned down media requests for in-jail interviews, according to the sheriff’s office.

She is also under investigation in Idaho on allegations she continued to hold the illicit teen parties for which she is charged in the South Bay, after Ada County authorities say they found that 12 teens were at her home — many having stayed overnight — when they served the Bay Area arrest warrant. She moved to the Boise area with her two teen sons at the end of the past school year, and the home she shared with her husband, tech executive Robert Amaral, is on the market with a $4.7 million listing price.

O’Connor had apparently been known in some Los Gatos circles as “the cool mom” since her older son was in middle school, and elicited suspicion from other parents. The investigation headed by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office contends that her illegal parties spanned from June 2020, when her elder son was 14, to May 2021 and included at least a half-dozen large events and several smaller gatherings involving mostly 14- and 15-year-olds.

A prevailing element of several of the parties, as some attending teens told investigators, was that O’Connor encouraged the teens to have sex or engage in sex acts, with the minors in various states of inebriation suggesting that many of the sexual interactions were not consensual. She also reportedly handed out condoms.

Prosecutors also contend that O’Connor aggressively enforced secrecy among the teens, helping them sneak out of their homes at night and bullying at least one girl she suspected of talking about the parties to outsiders. The investigation also indicated that she and teens worked to keep her husband unaware of what they were doing.

In addition to the 39 party-related charges filed against O’Connor on Oct. 8 — covering child endangerment, sexual assault and contributing to the delinquency of a minor — prosecutors in Santa Clara County filed three grand theft charges alleging she racked up $120,000 in unauthorized expenses on her former employer’s company credit cards, including payments for limo rides, clothing and alcohol delivered to her home. The employer, Aruba Networks, internally flagged the charges and after firing O’Connor, referred their investigation to Santa Clara police.

Check back later for updates to this story.

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Author: Robert Salonga