LOS GATOS (CBS SF) -- A Los Gatos mother is facing dozens of charges, including child abuse, after allegedly throwing drunken parties for young teenagers where she encouraged sex acts that she would sometimes watch, authorities announced Tuesday.
"Minors were not only furnished with alcohol, but provided a safe haven for very dangerous behavior," said legal analyst and former prosecutor Steven Clark. "The first question that needs to be asked is how did this out-of-control animal house for underage teens go on for so long without detection."
The laundry list of 39 offenses -- ranging from felony child endangerment and sexual assault to multiple misdemeanor charges of child endangerment and providing alcohol to minors -- were detailed in a press release and charging documents filed by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.
Shannon O'Connor (aka Shannon Bruga) -- a 47-year-old who currently lives in Eagle, Idaho -- bought vodka and Fireball whiskey, provided condoms, and discouraged the teens from telling their parents or authorities about the parties or calling for help when one of them passed out in their own vomit, according to a statement of facts in the case.
The teens at these parties were mostly 14- and 15-years old and included O'Connor's own teenage son. Most of the parties were held at O'Connor's then home in Los Gatos, but at least two were held elsewhere at residences in Lake Tahoe and Santa Cruz.
Additionally, O'Connor faces felony fraud charges in a separate case for making more than $120,000 in unauthorized charges on a company card she was given as an administrative assistant for Aruba Networks.
The child abuse charges outline a series of O'Connor's alleged drunken and destructive house parties for young teens that started in June of 2020 and continued until May of this year. According to the district attorney's office, she would warn the teens not to disclose the parties or she could go to jail. Over time, a total of nine different teenage girls were involved in the parties.
At one party at her home, O'Connor allegedly gave an underage teenager a condom and pushed him into a room with an intoxicated minor. During a New Year's Eve party at her home with about five 14-year-olds, the defendant watched and laughed as a drunk teen sexually battered a young girl in bed, according to the court documents. In some cases, O'Connor would Snapchat or text teens to leave their homes in the middle of the night and drink at her home, providing the alcohol.
"What I'm seeing here is only the tip of this investigation," Clark said. "I think you could see even more serious charges being put on Ms. O'Connor as this case progresses, particularly, if minors were being sexually assaulted."
In another incident, O'Connor let a minor drive her SUV in the Los Gatos High School parking lot while two other teens held on to the back, according to prosecutors. One fell off and was knocked unconscious.
O'Connor is being extradited from Idaho and will be arraigned at a later date. She faces incarceration if she is convicted.
Investigators said the criminal acts happened under the nose of O'Connor's Silicon Valley tech executive husband. The lies, according to authorities, began to unravel when parents began to get wind of what was happening and went to the Los Gatos High School administration.
"It's so disturbing that you want to believe that it could never happen and that may be why this case took so long to uncover," said Clark.
"It took a lot of brave children to come forward and to untangle this deeply disturbing case," Santa Clara County DA Jeff Rosen said in the release. "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."
Dr. Shaun Fletcher, an assistant professor of public relations at San Jose State says parents need to put privacy filters on apps and monitor them to protect their kids.
"There's a fine line between prying obsessively and being vigilant and I am willing to toe that line for my children's safety," he told KPIX.
Fletcher noted that parents need to adapt beyond simple "stranger danger."
"Just like we would protect our children in a physical space, parents need to evolve and understand that we now need to protect our children in a digital space," he explained.
Maria Cid Medina contributed to this report.
for more features.