The first complaint about Shannon O’Connor to Los Gatos High School came from a parent on Dec. 14, 2020, according to internal school emails obtained exclusively by NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit.
The mother told then-Interim Principal Paul Robinson, “Shannon Bruga [O’Connor] buys alcohol for teenagers” and “my daughter … overdosed on edibles.” Robinson responded the same day writing, “We will follow up on this and inform [the police].”
O’Connor is currently in custody facing 39 felony and misdemeanor charges including child endangerment and sexual battery. She’s accused of throwing alcohol-fueled sex parties for South Bay high schoolers and at least one middle schooler between 2020 and 2021. These internal emails provide a first public look at some of the initial allegations against her.
Two months after the December 2020 complaint, on Feb.17, a different parent sent a Los Gatos High School assistant principal a detailed, multi-page emails saying she had just filed a police report. The parent alleged “criminal contact” by O’Connor with her child and “at least five other 14-year-old girls” as well as at least one Fisher Middle School student.
The parent said O’Connor “groomed … befriended and influenced these girls; procuring them for her son and his friends (mostly Los Gatos High School football players).”
Shortly after, Principal Robinson changed a female student’s schedule so she could avoid two male students. Robinson emailed staff, “This is another one of those out of school things that everyone expects us to discipline for.” Robinson emailed a Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police officer around that time saying, “Most of this is for [the police department] to deal with … this has gotten way out of hand.”
“I think school officials are well within reason to say we referred this to police because it’s a police matter; it was happening outside of school control,” said Brett Sokolow, President of ANTIXIA, the Association of Title IX Administrators. Title IX is a law prohibiting sex discrimination at federally funded schools.
“Could the school have done more? When these things blow up, they’re always bigger in retrospect than they appear to be at the time,” he said.
It was bigger than it appeared, says the parent behind the February 2021 complaint. On March 18, that parent told Los Gatos High School about O’Connor allowing an underaged teenager to drive her SUV on the high school’s parking lot. A boy allegedly fell off the car, hit his head and was vomiting for days with a concussion.
Principal Robinson responded to staff “[Police] are already involved in the complaint…their detectives have the case.” At that point, Robinson’s own chief of student support services appeared to correct him saying, “No. This is our own internal process regarding claims of code conduct violations.”
In a statement to NBC Bay Area Thursday, LGSUHSD Superintendent Mike Grove wrote, “When informed of the unconfirmed allegations, the District informed local law enforcement as they have both the authority and expertise to determine if crimes had been committed. Although I can understand community frustration, it is important that the community know that, by contacting law enforcement, the District demonstrated its understanding that the allegations required an immediate elevation. The Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District will never hesitate to report issues to our local police departments in an effort to protect our students.”
Robinson is no longer interim principal of Los Gatos High School. In July, Kevin Buchanan became principal. When Shannon O’Connor was arrested last October, Buchanan responded to an inquiring parent, “I was unaware of the entire situation until today.”
O’Connor and her attorney have not responded to NBC Bay Area’s attempts to reach them. The Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department referred our station’s questions to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. In a statement, a public information officer for the DA’s office said it took officers the summer and the fall to gather evidence so they could prove the case in court beyond a reasonable doubt.
There was a span of about ten months between the first documented parent complaint and O’Connor’s arrest in Idaho where officials say they found her with more underaged children.
Candice Nguyen is an investigative reporter. To reach her about this story or another, email Candice.Nguyen@nbcuni.com.