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June 2, 2023
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Tearful testimony at bail hearing for woman accused of throwing parties for teens

A group of teenagers who say they were victimized by Los Gatos resident Shannon O’Connor, who’s accused of throwing parties for minors and permitting sexual abuse to take place at her home, filed into the Santa Clara County Superior Courtroom alongside parents on Jan. 18.

Judge Johnny C. Gogo was considering a motion to force the defendant, who also goes by the last name Bruga, to remain in custody. During the hearing, six different people stood up to share stories about how, they say, the woman harmed them or their families.

“Shannon Bruga robbed me of my innocence,” one anonymous minor said, fighting through tears as she continued. “She left me with sickening memories that I’m going to have to live with for the rest of my life.”

O’Connor is facing 39 criminal charges related to her efforts to separate victims from their parents using Snapchat, provide them with alcohol and allow them to act recklesslyengage in reckless behavior on her watch, prosecutors say. 

The District Attorney’s Office also says O’Connor encouraged teens to engage in sexual conduct, including non-consensual acts, at her Arroyo Del Rancho Road home, which was reportedly sold last month.

The mother of one underage accuser said she believes O’Connor will violate her bail and put victims in further danger.

“I fear for their safety and emotional wellbeing,” she said. “She will further torment our children.”

The woman said she’s afraid O’Connor could target other families in Los Gatos, too, if released.

“Please, Judge, do not grant bail for Shannon Bruga,” she said, pointing to her fear of what O’Connor might do if she gains access to another cell phone.

She began crying before returning to her seat.

Deputy District Attorney Rebekah Wise speaks outside the Santa Clara County Superior Courthouse after a hearing where speakers urged the judge to deny bail to Shannon O’Connor. (Photo by Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

Multiple speakers came all the way from Idaho, where O’Connor had moved prior to her arrest, in order to request the judge not grant bail.

Another anonymous female accuser said they fear O’Connor will flee to Idaho.

“Judge, we’re trying to heal,” the youth said. “We need more time.”

Another mother, of a girl who says O’Connor victimized her, said releasing the defendant would cause their family additional trauma. She implored Judge Gogo to take the gravity of O’Connor’s actions seriously.

“We have already been through so much,” she said. “She is a master manipulator. She will hyper-manipulate any adult or child.”

She added that O’Connor’s behavior cast a long shadow on the Los Gatos High School community, too.

“Thank you for your comments,” the judge replied, once the mom finished speaking.

Defense lawyer Brian Madden had requested time to file a written reply to the DA’s push to keep O’Connor locked up, which the judge granted.

Madden declined to speak to reporters.

O’Connor is due back in court Feb. 3, at 9am, for another bail hearing.

After the hearing, Deputy District Attorney Rebekah Wise told reporters the united front shown by victims at the hearing was “exceptional,” adding the speakers were brave to come forward.

“I’ve actually never seen this many people speak at a bail hearing,” she said, adding the DA’s Office will continue to fight O’Connor’s attempts to make bail. “She is a danger to our society.”

Drew Penner
Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].


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