The California mom accused of encouraging sex abuse at booze-fueled parties she arranged for young teens has long been known as a “liar” who leaves a trail of destruction in her wake wherever she goes, a source close to the family told The Daily Beast.
Shannon O’Connor, 47, is accused of a breathtaking array of crimes in Los Gatos, a wealthy Silicon Valley suburb where prosecutors say she lured young teens to “secret” parties, plied them with booze, and encouraged them to engage in “sometimes nonconsensual” sex acts. She was arrested last weekend on a fugitive warrant in Eagle, Idaho, where the source believes she had rented a home to lay low.
There were 10 underage boys and two underage girls at the home where O’Connor was staying when she was arrested—and most of them had spent the night, according to authorities.
O’Connor, who also goes by the name Shannon Bruga, faces a total of 39 charges in Santa Clara County, California, where prosecutors plan to extradite her. The charges include felony child abuse, sexual assault, and providing alcohol to minors. Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen called the allegations against O’Connor “deeply disturbing” in a press release this week. O’Connor is now locked up in a Boise jail awaiting her return to California. She is also facing felony fraud charges in a separate case, accused of running up more than $120,000 in unauthorized expenses on a company credit card while working as an administrative assistant at Aruba Networks.
The source who knows O’Connor and her second husband, tech executive Robert Amaral, told The Daily Beast that the charges against the middle-aged mom did not come as a shock to her.
“As far as when people say they’re surprised—I’m not surprised,” the source said, suggesting that O’Connor seems to thrive on creating chaos and does it almost habitually. “She’s like a bomb. Wherever she goes, she blows things up.”
Court documents filed by California prosecutors describe O’Connor as someone who habitually threw alcohol-soaked parties for her eldest son and his friends, who were all young teens. She allegedly organized the get-togethers through text messages and Snapchat and supplied booze to the kids, who regularly drank until they either vomited or passed out. O’Connor is also accused of setting aside certain rooms at her home where the teenage partiers could have sex with each other. If a girl refused, according to the court filings, O’Connor would coax and wheedle them until they succumbed to her pressure.
“It took a lot of brave children to come forward and to untangle this deeply disturbing case,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said 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.”
A 15-page criminal complaint alleges that O’Connor took part in sexual abuse herself, while also apparently facilitating it.
On Dec. 31, 2020, O’Connor allegedly fondled and touched someone identified in court filings as Jane Doe 6, a 14-year-old girl, against her will. O’Connor is also accused of molesting underage kids on three other occasions, with three different alleged victims: two 14-year-old females and one 14-year-old boy.
Prosecutors say O’Connor’s “drunken and destructive house parties” went on throughout 2020 and early 2021. In one instance, O’Connor is said to have “watched and laughed as a drunk teen sexually battered a young girl in bed.” In another case, prosecutors say she “brought one drunk teen into a bedroom at her home where an intoxicated 14-year-old girl was lying in the bed,” leading to the girl being assaulted.
Several teens also suffered injuries at O’Connor’s parties, according to court filings. At one, a teenage boy fell off the back of O’Connor’s SUV after she allegedly plied her 15-year-old son and two of his friends with alcohol, then drove them to a high school parking lot and convinced one of them to drive around while the others hung on to the vehicle’s exterior. When one lost his grip, he fell to the pavement and hit his head, briefly losing consciousness and suffering a severe concussion.
O’Connor was quick to plug any leaks she found, prosecutors say. When she thought that one girl was talking to others about the parties, O’Connor got other children to harass her and threatened to start ugly rumors about the suspected tale-teller. Because of this, according to court filings, the teen began to suffer panic attacks and started sleeping in her parents’ bedroom. The filings also allege that O’Connor “schemed” to keep Amaral oblivious to the wild sex parties she was throwing, often making sure he wasn’t around when the gatherings occurred and shooing out attendees before Amaral got home.
O’Connor’s alleged behavior stems from the fact that she “just thinks she's smarter than everyone else,” the source continued. “Almost like a narcissist, one of these people who really pulls you in at first and you want to be their friend, but there are so many horrible lies.”
“Why does she do this? It’s for power, it’s for control,” the source explained, noting that she once witnessed O’Connor make lewd comments to a teenage girl, suggesting that the girl might be gay because she hadn’t performed oral sex on a male classmate. “She is controlling these kids because she can’t control the adults. This is a way to have everyone loving her, everyone liking her, these kids looked up to her. And the children made her feel wanted, made her feel powerful.”
While O’Connor’s public Facebook photos depict her as a doting mother devoted to her family, parents in Los Gatos described her in the same terms one would a deviant sexual predator.
“This woman was doing weird stuff, chatting up my son on Snapchat,” one parent was quoted telling the East Bay Times on Wednesday. “We’re thankful our child had the sense to clue in to what was going on.”
Even students were apparently breathing a sigh of relief that the wannabe “cool mom” was behind bars.
“I’m glad she’s gone. It makes me feel safer,” a sophomore girl told the Times.
While O’Connor’s new neighbors in Idaho were left shocked by the charges against her, former neighbors in California were left scratching their heads at the revelation that such disturbing things were apparently happening right under their noses.
“It is absolutely mind-boggling,” neighbor Shyam Patel, 45, told The Daily Beast. “I’m sure we’ll end up finding out other things they’ve been up to.”