Los Gatos party mum exploited technology to trap kids, parents say
For months, they thought Shannon O’Connor was the adult in the room. As far as they knew, their 14 and 15-year-olds hung out with the charismatic first-year son of Los Gatos’ mom, played ping-pong, and swam in the $ 4.7 million French colonial-style home. family in the hills.
Gradually, the strange behavior of their children suggested that something disturbing was happening.
They eventually found out how O’Connor befriended their kids on Snapchat, luring teens to parties with their favorite beer and showering the girls with roses and jewelry from Tiffany & Co., even taking a group along. at a secret party fueled by alcohol in Lake Tahoe.
Now interviews with three of the parents reveal their amazement when they found out what prosecutors say was really going on: A 47-year-old mother, who was aware of social media, manipulated her children into frequenting a house underage drinking party and drunk teenager sex. .
“It makes me furious,” said one of the girl’s mothers. “They just thought she was a cool mom.”
Parents’ accounts add another layer to the startling allegations against O’Connor detailed this month in a 39-count criminal complaint that has shocked one of South Bay’s most toned communities. The Bay Area News Group does not name the parents interviewed for this article and also identifies O’Connor by her maiden name to avoid identifying the children involved, whom prosecutors consider to be victims of abuse.
While the smell of alcohol finally alerted some parents to what was going on at O’Connor’s, it was their children’s smartphones – the quintessential Silicon Valley accessory – that revealed its role in the orchestration. scary gatherings.
âShe’s really good with phones. She’s a social media pro, âsaid the mother of one daughter. âShe tries to create a wedge between parents and children. She’s a predator.
O’Connor was arrested on October 9 in Idaho, where she had recently moved with her two sons. She was back in Santa Clara County last week to respond to the criminal complaint accusing her of organizing drunken parties for teenagers and manipulating children into engaging in sexual acts. Other times, parents and court records claim, she supplied the children with alcohol and left them alone.
O’Connor made no plea, was denied bail, ordered not to contact the 15 alleged victims and scheduled a hearing on December 17. If found guilty, she faces more than 20 years in prison and must register as a sex offender.
O’Connor declined interview requests and his attorney made no comment on his behalf. But interviews with parents last week provided a disturbing glimpse into how their teens were seduced – and how the secret came to light.
A teenager had known O’Connor’s oldest son from grade school. They played sports together and O’Connor’s house became the meeting place.
When O’Connor said she was having a Halloween party for her son and his friends at her home on October 30, the only real concern of the boy’s parents was COVID-19, but “she assured us everything was fine. being outside, they were playing ping-pong, basketball, âthe boy’s father said.
When they picked up their 14-year-old son later that night, he was standing at the end of O’Connor’s driveway, barefoot, wet and cold. He told them he just didn’t want to disturb them while driving home. When they got home he threw up and they smelled alcohol.
While their son slept out of the bender, they noticed his smartphone lit up with Snapchat messages among O’Connor and other teens. Her username, the father said, was “Nun”. It became clear, says the father, that she had arranged for them to have a drinking party at home while she was dating her husband:
“How did it all go,” the nun explained.
âThanks Shannon! A boy replied.
There were references to alcohol, sex, a girl throwing up on the bathroom floor and passing out and a boy’s parents finding out he was drunk and asking questions. Her only concern seemed to be questions from other parents: “Did your parents know?” “Did anyone know I wasn’t there?” “
The worst, the father said, was a message from the boys that his son “drank heavily for the second time” and “handled him like a champ”, suggesting it was not his son’s first time. drank at O’Connor’s. to house. Then the dad saw onscreen notices that “Nun” was deleting threads – a feature of the app that allows users to control the lifespan of their messages.
The incident led to a falling out between the families during a video chat with O’Connor, her husband and son, the teenager’s father said. O’Connor’s husband – who has not been charged and whose knowledge of his wife’s role in the parties is unclear – insisted that some of the girls at the party must have brought the ‘alcohol. But the boy’s father said he had screenshots of disturbing Snapchat chats involving O’Connor, and their boys would no longer be allowed to see each other.
The teenager’s father said he spoke to fathers of other boys who had made the same decision not to let their children hang out at O’Connor’s house anymore. He thought it was the end until the mother of a teenage girl from high school contacted him earlier this year with her own horror story.
A girl in her class
This girl was in a class with O’Connor’s son, and he invited her to work on a class group project in December 2020 with another friend, the girl’s mother said. At the time, school was still far away and she thought it would be good for her daughter to socialize with other children.
Her daughter soon after started dating O’Connor’s son. But the girl’s mother noticed disturbing changes in her daughter’s behavior – lying, falling asleep at the table, drinking. It didn’t take long for him to find out that O’Connor had been messaging his daughter constantly for weeks.
âShannon would tell her what to do and when and how to lie to me and her dad,â the girl’s mother said in an interview. “It was just completely crazy.”
Her daughter then opened up to her mother about the abuse she said she suffered during a series of alleged secret alcohol and sex parties at O’Connor’s house, where she says she was told. asked to recruit other girls. Prosecutors allege that O’Connor urged drunk boys to perform sex acts on the girl and made her perform sex acts on boys while she was intoxicated, court documents show.
When the girl confronted O’Connor after one of these incidents, she said O’Connor laughed, prosecutors said. O’Connor also didn’t stop another teenager from beating her after the girl told him not to cheat on his girlfriend, according to the complaint. A few months later in April, after an argument, court documents indicate that O’Connor pulled his car alongside the girl to intimidate her. The girl’s mother went to the police and began warning others about O’Connor.
A girl in Idaho
One of those who received the warning was the mother of a girl in suburban Boise, Idaho, who said her daughter met O’Connor’s son through the online video game. Fortnite in March. The mother met O’Connor virtually during a video chat her daughter had with O’Connor and her son. O’Connor said they were looking to move to Idaho and the girl’s mother offered to help. The two families have met for dinner in Idaho a few times, and the girl’s mother could tell her daughter was falling in love with O’Connor’s son.
Come to think of it, there were troubling signs regarding the relationship, the girl’s mother said. O’Connor was a constant presence in the relationship. She would give her daughter gifts, a $ 200 Tiffany necklace, a dozen roses. If her daughter mentioned in a conversation that she was hungry, Uber Eats would deliver food to her.
Then her mother received an unexpected call from the mother of Los Gatos’ daughter. Luckily, another of the parents’ sons overheard Shannon’s son say he had a new girlfriend in Idaho. So the parent searched Instagram and found what appeared to be a likely contact and passed it on to the girl’s mother, believing it would be best for another mother to call.
Shocked, the Idaho girl’s mother said she immediately began browsing text messages on her daughter’s phone, with dozens of O’Connors showing she had conspired with the girl to bring in her son in the Idaho family home while the wife and husband were asleep:
Are you alone? Idaho’s mom remembers one of the messages saying. Are your parents sleeping? Has he entered properly?
The mother confronted O’Connor and ended the relationship. But O’Connor, she said, was not done with her daughter, and she came to believe that their move to Idaho over the summer was meant to ease the relationship. his son with the daughter. Throughout the summer, O’Connor continued to try to contact his daughter through Snapchat, using different profile names. Her daughter received three dozen calls from a line without a caller ID, she said, 27 of them over a three-hour period one night. If she answered, there was only heavy breathing.
Their telephone company helped them identify the phone used to make the calls, the mother said. It was at O’Connor’s. Looking back, the girl’s mother thinks she should have been more alarmed that O’Connor is constantly texting her daughter.
âWe’ve all really been fooled by the ‘cool mom’ thing,â she said. “Looking backâ¦ the red flags were there.”