The woman accused of throwing parties for teens in her Los Gatos home was dealt a blow during a bail hearing Feb. 3, not only when she was denied bail, but also when the judge said he believes there is strong evidence against her
Shannon O’Connor (also known as Shannon Bruga) faces 39 criminal charges, including facilitating sexual assault, attempting to intimidate a potential witness and conspiring with her tech executive husband to hide assets so they can’t be used for restitution.
In denying her request for bail, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Johnny C. Gogo said, “The court does find a high likelihood that these charges will be found to be true after a jury trial. This is a very extraordinary case.”
About 10 youth and five adults attended the hearing to argue against her release. The judge noted additional participants joined the meeting via the Microsoft Teams video streaming platform.
Five people spoke at the hearing to describe the harm they say O’Connor inflicted on them and their families. This was on top of several others who shared testimony at a bail hearing in January.
The speakers have not been identified in order to hide the identity of minor victims.
“Your honor, I’m Jane Doe 6,” began the first of the day, stating she never got drunk at any of the parties. “I was left extremely discomforted and confused.”
Her observations made her realize O’Connor was far from normal, she said, as she requested Gogo deny bail.
“She will not change,” Jane Doe 6 said. “I pray that she finds herself and comes to terms with the facts of the matter.”
Next up was the father of Jane Doe 4, who urged the judge to carefully consider the words of the accusers.
“They do not want what happened to them to happen to other teenagers,” he said. “What if Ms. O’Connor is released (on) bail and does it again?”
With multiple victims willing to travel across state lines to argue against her release, it’s clear people are concerned she’s dangerous, he added.
“I’m begging you not to grant bail and keep Ms. O’Connor in jail,” he said, starting to cry while at the podium.
The third speaker chose to identify himself as O’Connor’s first husband. But he is known to the court as John Doe 3.
“The court systems have repeatedly failed to protect us,” he said. “She cannot be trusted.”
O’Connor and her second husband, Robert Amaral, conspired to hide his son from him, John Doe 3 said.
“I plead with you not to grant her bail,” he said, calling O’Connor a “menace to society.”
The fourth to testify was the mother of Jane Doe 6.
“Shannon has no idea who I am,” she said, as the defendant sat quietly in front of her in an ochre shirt, brown sleeves and Crocs-style slippers—her hair pulled up into a tight bun. “But she certainly knows who my daughter is.”
After all, her daughter was lured to O’Connor’s house at least 25 times, she said.
“First she selects her target,” she said. “She has a type: athletic, attractive, smart.”
Next, she builds trust through flattery, she continued.
“She’s the ‘fun mom,’ not like anybody else,” the woman stated. “Next, she executes her plan.”
That plan included, sex, alcohol and other reckless behavior, she asserted.
“And lastly, she seeks to maintain control,” she said, adding she uncovered the manipulation when she caught her daughter messaging O’Connor on trips to-and-from school.
That breached the “mom code”— a societal norm where parents deal with each other and don’t contact children directly—as far as the mother was concerned.
The woman said O’Connor even tried to organize a trip to Cabo San Lucas, in Mexico, for her daughter’s birthday—without parents, she said.
“That’s when I put my foot down,” she said. “Shannon should remain in jail—period.”
The final accusing witness, the father of Jane Doe 5, said O’Connor is a “hyper-manipulator,” the likes of which he and his wife have never met before.
“She knew exactly what she was doing was wrong—she can’t help herself,” he said, pointing to how she disappeared to Idaho while under investigation. “What lengths would she go to now?”
Just prior to the hearing, O’Connor’s lawyer, Brian Madden, filed a motion arguing his client should be freed because the 12 felony child endangerment charges and 27 misdemeanors aren’t “violent” crimes.
Deputy District Attorney Rebekah Wise fired back: “In this case the defendant orchestrated every single gathering.” She argued that the child endangerment did rise to the level of violence. “There was harassment that occurred prior to her even being in custody in this case."
“She is a danger to current victims. She is a danger to future victims.”
“The court does find that that incident was an attempt to interfere,” Gogo said, adding O’Connor’s attempt—along with Amaral—to hide her true wealth was stunning.
The judge also said "there was violence inflicted on some of the minors here." He added that the sex that occurred under her watch was “arguably” sexual assault, given how drunk the teens were, meaning they wouldn’t necessarily have been able to consent to the acts. At least one victim was assaulted against her will, according to the DA’s office, he noted.
The victims, who were ages 13-15, were going through a “very precious time” of their lives, the judge said. “The lies and manipulation have affected the minor victims.”
O’Connor's plea hearing was scheduled for April 11.