A group of teenagers who say they were victimized by Shannon O’Connor at parties she hosted at her Los Gatos home gave tearful testimony at Santa Clara County Superior Court bail hearing 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 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 engage 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.
Defense lawyer Brian Madden requested time to file a written reply to the prosecutor's push to keep O’Connor locked up without bail, which the judge granted. Madden declined to speak to reporters.
O’Connor is due back in court Feb. 3 for a continuation of the bail hearing.
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.
Multiple speakers also traveled from Idaho to testify at the hearing, asking the judge to keep O’Connor in custody. The defendant moved to Idaho prior to her arrest.
Another female accuser said she feared O’Connor will flee to Idaho.
“Judge, we’re trying to heal,” the youth said. “We need more time.”
A mother of a girl who says was victimized by O’Connor told the court that releasing the defendant would cause their family additional trauma. She implored 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.”
The woman added that O’Connor’s behavior cast a long shadow on the Los Gatos High School community.
“Thank you for your comments,” the judge replied.
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 that her office will continue to fight O’Connor’s attempts to make bail. “She is a danger to our society.”