LOS GATOS — A South Bay woman has been charged criminally with hosting a series of illegal parties for her son and his friends, allegedly supplying alcohol and watching them binge drink to dangerous levels with teen girls and pressuring or manipulating them into having sex.
Shannon Bruga, who is also known as Shannon O’Connor, is awaiting extradition to Santa Clara County after she was arrested Saturday in Ada County, Idaho, where she is believed to have a home in addition to her residence in Los Gatos. She has multiple listed aliases, but she is known in Los Gatos as Shannon Bruga.
She faces 39 criminal charges, including felony child abuse, sexual assault, and providing alcohol to minors.
According to an investigative outline accompanying a criminal complaint, the 47-year-old Bruga is characterized as being obsessed with using text messages and Snapchat to coordinate and organize secret booze-filled parties attended by as many as 20 teens, where she was the lone adult and where she often pushed them into drinking to a point of illness or unconsciousness.
A prevailing element of the parties, as the teens reportedly told investigators, was that Bruga encouraged the teens to have sex or engage in sex acts, with the children in various states of inebriation suggesting that often the sexual interactions were not consensual. Some of the teens who were described as initiating sexual activity said they could not recall it, because of their level of intoxication, according to investigators.
Bruga was also adamant that the teens who attended these parties keep them secret from others including their classmates at Los Gatos High School, where her son attends, according to investigators. She also allegedly went to great lengths to conceal the parties from her husband, longtime tech manager and executive Robert Amaral, who is currently the chief revenue officer of SlashNext, a Pleasanton-based firm specializing in anti-phishing and anti-fraud software.
The toll of the parties — which spanned from June 2020 to May 2021, including at least a half-dozen large parties and several smaller gatherings — was extensive, as alleged in the court documents. Several teens reported drinking to the point of heavy vomiting, and the intoxication was to a level where one teen broke a finger. Investigators say one boy was given alcohol by Bruga despite her knowing that he had a pending surgery for a digestive disorder.
There is also an account alleging that on Dec. 19, Bruga drove her son and two of his friends in her SUV while they drank alcohol, and allowed at least one of them to drive, unlicensed in the parking lot of Los Gatos High. At one point her son and his friend hung off the back of the vehicle while it was moving, and the friend fell and hit his head, falling unconscious for up to 30 seconds.
That moment was when the alleged scheme was almost exposed, after someone saw the aftermath of the fall and called 911, prompting a police officer to catch up to them at a nearby minimart. But Bruga was reportedly able to convince the officer that the vomit-filled SUV was a product of car sickness.
Later that night, the injured boy “spent the night vomiting, and almost drowned in the tub due to his intoxication,” according to investigators, who added that an ensuing doctor’s appointment confirmed he had a concussion.
Other segments of the investigative outline suggest other signs that Bruga was actively trying to avoid police attention. For a Halloween party she threw, she reportedly called police ahead of time to tell them about the gathering in an apparent attempt to preempt any potential noise violations.
At a party a couple of weeks after the concussion incident, a girl told investigators that she almost drowned in a hot tub because of her intoxication. The same girl reported that during that same night, one of her son’s friends digitally penetrated her in the hot tub and fondled her later in a bedroom, and that Bruga laughed after hearing or seeing both instances.
The boy involved in those acts reportedly told investigators “he was so intoxicated from the alcohol provided by (Bruga) that he has no memory of this occurring.”
Besides parties at her home, investigators state that they determined at least two out-of-town parties that Bruga threw. At an October 2020 party at a Santa Cruz cottage for her son’s 15th birthday, Bruga allegedly insisted that the dozen teen boys and girls keep their phones out of sight. The party resulted in $9,000 in damages to the property.
Investigators say they also found evidence that Bruga threw a party in Lake Tahoe on Feb. 15 in which she “concocted a story” for teens to tell their parents about the context of the trip, including assurances that no alcohol would be involved and that girls would be staying in different rooms from the boys.
Despite all of Bruga’s apparent efforts to keep the parties secret — including waiting for her husband to leave the house and making sure the place was cleaned up before he returned — parents of the teens who attended the parties slowly got word of what was happening. Some of it was unavoidable because of the injuries that some suffered at the parties.
One girl told her mother in March about her friend’s concussion from the SUV fall, and that led to other parents learning about it, and contacting the high school. Investigators say Bruga coached the boys involved to lie about what happened.
There was no immediate indication that any of the teen boys described as engaging in sex acts with inebriated girls at Bruga’s parties will be prosecuted. That could be a function of two main issues: Any charges filed against a juvenile is typically not a public record, and any prosecution could be mitigated at least in part by an argument that the teens were victims themselves of Bruga’s alleged conduct and coercion.
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