“Glad she’s gone”: Los Gatos reels after mom arrested for drunken teen sex parties

The case comes a year after a number of Los Gatos high school students started a #MeTooLosGatos movement, complaining about a rape culture at the school.

“Glad she’s gone”: Los Gatos reels after mom arrested for drunken teen sex parties

Sitting poolside at a luxury apartment complex in Eagle, Idaho, over the summer, a mom introduced herself to a new neighbor, Shannon O’Connor, who had just moved with her two sons away from the Silicon Valley town of Los Gatos.

“She told me the kids at Los Gatos High would party so much and that the boys would have friends over and they would completely wipe out their alcohol,” Victoria Malykh said Wednesday. “She couldn’t put up with it anymore, and she brought them here to take them away from all of that.”

In hindsight, Malykh said, the conversation seems richly ironic. O’Connor is now facing 39 criminal charges, including 12 felony counts of child endangerment, for allegedly plying teens with alcohol, getting them drunk to the point of vomiting and encouraging them to have sex, whether the girls were conscious or not. News of O’Connor’s arrest swept through the campus Wednesday and among parents who had heard rumors about O’Connor — known to many of them as Shannon Bruga — but were horrified nonetheless.

“I’m shocked there are parents that will engage in that kind of behavior and incite it,” said Amy Rubin, picking up her son from school Wednesday. “It’s, frankly, disgusting.”

The arrest comes a year after a number of Los Gatos high school students started a #MeTooLosGatos movement, complaining about a rape culture at the school and staging a rally on campus. At the time, school officials said they could do little but contact local police about activities off campus, which they said they did in the O’Connor case when a parent complained.

O’Connor, 47, was arrested in Idaho. A message left on her cell phone Wednesday afternoon was not returned.

She and her husband, tech executive Robert Amaral, had put their $4.7 million home, with a sport court, hot tub and three car garage, on the market sometime last year and moved to Idaho where O’Connor and her sons — a 15-year-old who was on the Los Gatos High football team last year and a 13-year-old middle schooler — recently moved into a rental home while awaiting the sale of the Los Gatos home, Malykh said.

LOS GATOS, CA – OCTOBER 12: Shannon O’Connor’s house photographed in Los Gatos, Calif., on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021. Shannon O’Connor, has been arrested and faces 39 criminal charges, induing felony and misdemeanor counts of child endangerment, sexual battery, child molestation, and misdemeanor counts of providing alcohol to minors, according to authorities. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group) 

O’Connor, 47, was apparently known as “the cool mom” since the older son was in middle school and had raised eyebrows among some parents for her chumminess with her sons’ friends. But her behavior ratcheted up last summer as her eldest was entering his freshman year in high school.

“This woman was doing weird stuff, chatting up my son on Snapchat,” said one parent waiting Wednesday outside Los Gatos High. “We’re thankful our child had the sense to clue in to what was going on” and didn’t reply.

There’s a general consensus, he said, that O’Connor fled Los Gatos at the end of the school year “because of the firestorm that was about to hit.”

During the lunch recess, students grabbing a snack at a restaurant across the street said everyone was talking about the arrest on campus.

“It’s scary,” said one sophomore girl. “I’m glad she’s gone. It makes me feel safer.”

The criminal complaint released Tuesday by the Santa Clara County district attorney outlines dozens of incidents over an 8-month period where O’Connor allegedly purchased alcohol of the teenagers’ choosing and encouraged them to have sex in her home, in a rented beach house in Santa Cruz and in a cabin in Lake Tahoe. In one case, when a girl was so drunk she passed in and out of consciousness in a bedroom, O’Connor brought in a teenage boy who sexually assaulted her while the girl cried, the complaint said.

“Why did you leave me in there with him?” the girl later asked O’Connor, the complaint said. “Like why did you like do that? Like you knew like what he was going to do me.”

O’Connor “just laughed,” the complaint said.

It’s unclear whether any of the boys, who are all juveniles, will face any penalty.

As one parent put it, “They were manipulated in this situation. Are they culpable? I hope not.”

Some of the teenagers were so drunk, they told authorities, that one nearly drowned in a hot tub and another in a bathtub. One boy suffered a concussion when he fell off the back of O’Connor’s car. She had been driving the boys around while they were drinking and allowed her son to drive in the school parking lot, where the other boy was hanging on the back and lost his grip, the complaint said.

The case was reported by a mother of one of the girls caught up in the drunken parties, attended at times by as many as 20 teenagers who were allegedly sworn to secrecy by O’Connor. The girl was so traumatized that she needed counseling, the mother has said.

Along with the 12 felony child-endangerment charges, O’Connor faces 10 misdemeanor counts of child endangerment, one count of misdemeanor sexual battery, three counts of misdemeanor child molestation, and 13 misdemeanor counts of providing alcohol to minors.

At the apartment complex in Idaho, Malykh said, O’Connor’s older son and his friends often took over the communal parking areas, driving recklessly — with friends hanging from the rails — and screaming.

“It was obnoxiously wild,” Malykh said. “I’m like, where is the mother?”

Reporters Robert Salonga and John Woolfolk contributed to this article.