A Los Gatos woman alleged to have hosted parties in which she pressured underage girls to have sex with drunken boys she helped to intoxicate was indicted by a grand jury on Monday.
Shannon Marie O’Connor, who came to be known as the “party mom,” was charged with 20 felony and 43 misdemeanor counts, according to the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office.
The felony charges include endangering or injuring the health of a child as well as attempting to dissuade a victim or witness from reporting a crime. The misdemeanors include selling alcohol to minors and annoying or molesting a child younger than 18.
Charges stem from a series of parties and events that took place over an 11-month period starting in mid-2020. At these events, O’Connor is alleged to have provided so much alcohol to her son and his friends and other partygoers, mostly ages 13 to 15, that they “would vomit, be unable to stand, and fall unconscious,” according to court documents.
O’Connor, 49, was arrested in Idaho after moving there in June 2021, according to the district attorney’s office. She was extradited to California, where she was initially charged in October 2021 with 39 counts, including 12 felonies. She has been in custody since and resides at Elmwood Complex Women’s Facility in Milpitas.
The decision to indict through a grand jury came after multiple delays of the preliminary hearing over the course of nearly two years.
“I believe we had something like four delays, including the most recent being a medical issue related to the defendant,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Rebekah Wise told The Times.
O’Connor missed a court appearance in mid-August due to what was believed to be either “spider bites or an MRSA skin infection,” according to reporting from the San Jose Mercury News.
Wise said the indictment offered the victims who testified in front of a grand jury a formalized schedule that wouldn’t be subject to as many delays.
“For all the victims in the case, they are minors, and getting them prepared for that preliminary hearing and having it continued for various reasons was very difficult for them,” Wise said. “With the grand jury route, we’re ready to proceed, and we could give them a date. And that really helped relieve anxiety.”
A mix of 32 people, including 17 victims — listed as John and Jane Does — witnesses and law enforcement, testified before the grand jury, according to the indictment.
The next step in the trial is the defendant’s arraignment, which is set for Monday at 9 a.m.
Calls to Brian Madden, O’Connor’s attorney, were not immediately answered.
Wise said she did not know how long O’Connor’s prison sentence would be if she were found guilty on all charges.
She said Madden asked the trial judge in April for a potential sentence should his client change her plea from not guilty to guilty. The judge returned with an answer of 17 years and four months, so the defense pressed forward with the trial.
Christina Hanks, a Santa Clara County sheriff’s detective, noted in a report that “extremely intoxicated” minors at events where O’Connor provided alcohol would be encouraged by the defendant to “engage in sexual activity with each other.”
Hanks described several occurrences in which the children were left in allegedly dangerous situations. A 13- to 14-year-old sober teen girl was asked to care for “an extremely intoxicated” 14-year-old boy at a summer 2020 house party, according to court documents.
The boy was alleged to have passed out, “covered in his own vomit,” and only awoke to vomit more. The defendant also advised against calling for an ambulance when the girl asked for one, according to court documents.
O’Connor was also alleged to have rented a cottage in Santa Cruz for her son’s birthday in early October 2020. She asked a group of his friends over Snapchat “what kind of alcohol they wanted,” according to court documents.
The drunk boys urinated on the property, threw up in the backyard and stumbled and fell on the patio, according to court documents. The homeowner reported damage of $9,000.
In December 2020, a drunk boy was allegedly handed a condom by O’Connor and pushed into a bed with a drunk girl, according to court documents. That girl allegedly locked herself in the bathroom out of fear.
O’Connor also encouraged one girl to perform oral sex on a boy in one instance, while in another episode she led a drunk boy into a room with an intoxicated girl, according to court documents. The male allegedly penetrated the girl with his fingers.
“From the perspective I had with the testimony, [O’Connor] does have an abnormal sexual interest in children,” Wise said. “She received sexual gratification knowing children were involved in sex acts with each other, and alcohol was a tool that she used to engage in these acts.”