The Los Gatos party mom charged with orchestrating drunken teen sex bashes for her high-school freshman son and his pals, where prosecutors say girls were sexually assaulted, now faces significantly more time behind bars under a new indictment filed last week.
Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Rebekah Wise, speaking after Shannon O’Connor’s arraignment Monday on a fresh grand jury indictment, said that the accused teen party maven who had faced a 20 year maximum sentence now could receive more than 31 years if convicted.
“We believe that the 63 charges returned in the indictment adequately reflect the crimes that the defendant committed against 13 minor children who were 14 years old at the time that they were abused by Ms. O’Connor,” Wise said. “Multiple children were left unconscious from alcohol intoxication, vomiting from alcohol intoxication, sexually abused, unconscious, or one with broken bones.”
The court entered not-guilty pleas on O’Connor’s behalf, informed her she had a right to a trial within 60 days and asked if she understood that was being waived for her.
O’Connor, dressed in a dark-green jail jumpsuit and wearing black plastic framed eyeglasses, her hair now mostly brown with the blonde highlights grown out, replied in a soft voice, “yes, your honor.” She was ordered to remain in jail without bail pending further proceedings.
O’Connor’s lawyer, Brian Madden, noted afterward only that her minimum sentence if convicted on all counts could be a tenth of the new maximum — three years in prison.
Prosecutors alleged O’Connor helped the teens sneak out of their homes during the middle of the night or early morning without their parent’s knowledge or consent, coordinating the rendezvous via apps like Snapchat or text message, picking them up down the street from their home, and driving them to parties at her house or occasional rented party pads.
O’Connor on multiple occasions allegedly gave them and her teen son excessive amounts of liquor — so much that many would vomit, stagger on their feet and pass out under her supervision. Prosecutors alleged she encouraged the drunken teens to engage in sexual activity with each other, and even facilitated the sexual encounters, “some consensual and some nonconsensual.”
O’Connor was arrested in October 2021 on a 39-count complaint charging her with a dozen felony counts of child endangerment and 27 misdemeanors that included a sexual battery charge, three child molestation charges and multiple counts of endangering and providing alcohol to children.
Under the original charging complaint, O’Connor was to have a preliminary hearing last spring, a sort of mini-trial where prosecutors would present evidence in court that the defense could challenge and a judge would decide whether it was sufficient for a trial.
Before that hearing took place, O’Connor in April asked a judge what her sentence would be if she pleaded guilty to all counts. When the judge in May told her 17 years and four months behind bars, O’Connor decided to proceed with a preliminary hearing.
But that hearing, rescheduled to August, was again postponed because O’Connor had been hospitalized with an infection.
The new 63-count indictment handed down by a week ago includes 20 felonies — 17 counts of child endangerment, two counts of sexual penetration of an intoxicated person and a count of attempting to dissuade a victim or witness from reporting a crime. The misdemeanors include child endangerment and furnishing alcohol to the underaged.
On Monday, O’Connor was ordered to return to court Dec. 20 to set a trial date.
Wise said prosecutors sought a grand jury indictment to move the case along and reduce stress on the 13 teen victims from repeated rescheduling of their court testimony. A grand jury indictment bypasses the need for a preliminary hearing.
“Every time it is set for preliminary hearing, their anxiety understandably ramps up as they get prepared to testify and relive what the defendant did to them,” Wise said outside the courtroom. “As it is continued last-minute, their anxiety continues. ”