Investigators suspect more teens may have been victimized at Bay Area mom’s sex parties

California

LOS GATOS, Calif. (KRON) — A mother is accused of throwing teen sex parties in her Los Gatos mansion, where she allegedly pressured underage teenagers to binge drink and encouraged boys to have both consensual and non-consensual sex with girls.

Now investigators said they suspect Shannon Marie O’Connor, 47, may have victimized even more teens than originally found.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said several Los Gatos High School students went to O’Connor’s distributing sex parties between June of 2020 and May 2021.

O’Connor has two sons, ages 13 and 15. When police began investigating her this summer, she moved with her sons to Ada County in Idaho.

Shannon Marie O’Connor / Ada County Sheriff’s Office

Law enforcement in Idaho is now concerned that O’Connor continued throwing parties for teens in her new home, and there may be more victims who have not come forward.

Ada County Sheriff’s detectives said when they went to O’Connor’s home to arrest her last weekend, there were 12 underage teens with her who had slept over the night before.

Detectives determined her sons were in imminent danger and placed them under the custody of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Law enforcement first began to investigate O’Connor after a boy was injured falling from her SUV in Los Gatos High School’s parking lot. The boy suffered a concussion and a parent reported it to police. Investigators began talking to girls, between 13-15 years old, who described being sexually assaulted at O’Connor’s parties.

Investigators say underage teens were sexually assaulted inside O’Connor’s mansion on Arroyo Del Rancho Road in Los Gatos.

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said, “It took a lot of brave children to come forward and to untangle this deeply disturbing case.”

Rosen said O’Connor will be prosecuted for felony child endangerment. “As a parent, I’m shocked. As the DA, I’m determined to hold adults who endanger children fully accountable to the law and our community,” Rosen said.

Principal Kevin Buchanan declined to comment for this story.

This case is unfortunately one of many sex scandals involving Los Gatos High- Schools. Students and former students say there is a major problem within the culture on campus.

Students launched a #MeToo movement Instagram page last year so teens could have a safe space to report their traumatic experiences. 

Los Gatos High School has been connected to multiple sex scandals in recent years.

At last year’s graduation ceremony, students told KRON4 they were upset that boys accused of rape were allowed to attend prom and walk in the graduation.

One of the school’s Hall Of Fame athletes, Heather Hennessy, filed a lawsuit earlier this year accusing administrators of not protecting her from a predatory coach when she was a student at Los Gatos High.

District Attorney investigator Christina Hanks wrote that O’Connor went to great lengths to keep her parties secret from other parents, law enforcement, and her own husband. She would only throw parties when she knew her husband would not be home and forbid teens from telling their parents that alcohol was provided at gatherings, Hanks wrote.

She communicated with students through Snapchat.

The mom provided obscene amounts of alcohol that caused many teens to pass out in their own vomit and blackout inside her $4-million Los Gatos mansion, Hanks wrote. O’Connor also organized parties for teens in vacation homes she rented in Santa Cruz and Lake Tahoe.

Investigators said that O’Connor was aware that what she was doing was illegal. (Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office)

“When these minors were extremely intoxicated from alcohol, she encouraged them to engage in sexual activity with each other, facilitated sexual encounters, and watched some of these sexual encounters,” Hanks wrote.

At one party, investigators said O’Connor gave a boy a condom and pushed him into a bedroom where a girl was slipping in and out of consciousness. The girl was so scared that she locked herself in a bathroom to get away from the boy. Another girl said she cried as she was sexually assaulted by a boy and O’Connor reacted by laughing.

Some of the sexual encounters between teens happened in O’Connor’s hot tub while the mom was also in the hot tub. One 14-year-old girl said she almost drowned because she was dangerously intoxicated. O’Connor was always the only adult present at the parties, Hanks wrote.

Investigators said that the mom was aware that what she was doing was illegal.

“(O’Connor) told all minors who attended parties at her residence or were given alcohol not to tell anyone about the parties. She stated if anyone was told she could go to jail,” Hanks wrote.

“(O’Connor) believed Jane Doe 5 (age 14) was breaking this rule she imposed. As a result, (O’Connor) threatened to spread rumors about Jane Doe 5. As a result of (O’Connor’s) threats, Jane Doe 5 suffered mental and emotional turmoil. She had panic attacks, and had to sleep in her parents’ room,” Hanks wrote.

Ada County detectives are concerned that O’Connor, who also goes by the last name Burga, threw more teen sex parties in Idaho.

On Friday, the mom remained behind bars in the Ada County Jail. She will be extradited back to Santa Clara County next week and arraigned on 39 criminal charges. Those charges include 12 felony counts of child endangerment.

The Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District released the following statement to KRON4: “Student safety is a top priority for the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District. We work with our parents, staff, and community to promote positive behaviors and good decision-making among our student population and to educate our students, parents, and staff on issues related to substance use. We actively investigate any issues that arise on our campuses and work closely with law enforcement to support their investigation into matters that take place outside of school. It is important to note that we take the topic of underage drinking very seriously and work continuously to promote awareness and dialogue in our classrooms and our community. Additionally, parents and families also play a crucial role in setting clear expectations for the behavior of our young people and in monitoring their activities. Only together can we effectively address social issues such as substance abuse.”

Shannon O'Connor
Shannon O’Connor (Ada County Sheriff’s Office)

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