A Los Gatos woman jailed since her October arrest on charges of hosting liquor drinking parties for her underaged son and his high school friends in which girls sometimes were allegedly sexually assaulted under her watch has filed papers seeking another shot at release on bail.
Shannon O’Connor, 47, is scheduled for a bail hearing in Santa Clara County Superior Court on Tuesday, Jan. 18. At her initial court appearance in October, Judge Johnny Gogo denied bail after the prosecutor argued she posed a flight risk and threat to the 15 alleged teenaged victims.
But a nine-page bail motion filed Wednesday on her behalf by her lawyer, Brian Madden, argues she’s no threat and there’s no justification to continue withholding a chance to post bail while she awaits trial.
“She has been a model inmate,” the motion states. “The People provide no facts showing Ms. O’Connor has tried to contact the victims or has made any effort to find teenagers so she can ply them with alcohol… The People likewise provide no factual information showing Ms. O’Connor to be a flight risk.”
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said it will file a response next week and had no comment Thursday.
Parents of girls who attended the parties and were alleged victims of sexual assault oppose O’Connor’s release and plan to tell the judge at Tuesday’s hearing that she remains a threat.
“We do not feel safe if she posts bail,” said the mother of one of the girls, who is not being named to protect the identity of her daughter, identified only as a “Jane Doe” in the criminal complaint. She said O’Connor’s husband still lives locally and that his wifewould have means to flee with proceeds from the $4.6 million sale of the couple’s 5,100-square-foot Los Gatos home last month. “The kids are terrified of her being ‘out.’”
O’Connor faces 39 criminal counts involving 15 alleged teen victims for a series of parties and gatherings from June 2020 through last May. She is scheduled to enter a plea Mar. 4.
Prosecutors allege O’Connor arranged through text and Snapchat messages for her son’s teen friends — high school freshmen at the time — to sneak out of their homes late at night and drive them to her spacious ranch-style home in the hills overlooking Silicon Valley, telling them to keep it a secret. She also allegedly arranged other benders at rented homes in Santa Cruz and the Lake Tahoe area.
At the gatherings, O’Connor allegedly gave her older son and the other teens access to “excessive amounts of alcohol,” and several wound up vomiting or passing out. One boy allegedly suffered a concussion and was so drunk he almost drowned in a bathtub.
At several of the parties, according to court filings, once the teen boys and girls were drunk, O’Connor allegedly “encouraged them to engage in sexual activity with each other,” some of which was “nonconsensual.” She allegedly “harassed” and “threatened to spread rumors about” teens who talked about the parties, and even pulled her car alongside a teen girl who’d had a falling out with her, and stared at her.
After O’Connor’s last hearing in December, Deputy District Attorney Rebekah Wise said nothing has changed to warrant her release. O’Connor also is facing an unrelated embezzlement charge involving unauthorized personal expenses charged to a former employer.
But in her bail motion, O’Connor’s lawyer argued she isn’t charged with capital or violent offenses that would warrant keeping her locked up. The most serious charges, a dozen counts of felony endangering or injuring the health of a child, are “wobbler” offenses that may or may not be charged as felonies, and which “as pleaded, do not involve physical violence, physical force, beating or striking the victims,” Madden argued.
The 27 other counts, including furnishing liquor to minors, child endangerment, sexual battery and child molestation, are charged as misdemeanors. Madden argued in the motion that O’Connor is legally entitled to bail because she isn’t charged with a capital offense, a felony sexual assault or act of violence.
The motion also argued there’s no indication O’Connor poses a risk to flee justice or public danger. The offenses she’s charged with involve access to the victims through her son, who now is living with his father in Texas.
She was in the process of moving to Idaho before she was charged, but could rent an apartment locally and submit to satellite location monitoring, the motion said, adding that O’Connor is not facing an “extreme” sentence, but rather 20 years, only half of which she’d spend in custody.
Legal expert Steven Clark, a former Santa Clara County prosecutor, said that while it’s possible the judge could continue denying bail, he would expect O’Connor to be allowed to post bail with conditions such as no contact with the victims.