Two parents who first warned police and school officials about the Los Gatos mom accused of teen sex and drinking parties, Shannon O’Connor, told NBC Bay Area they were failed by school and police authorities, putting more children in harm’s way.
O’Connor was charged in October with dozens of crimes, including child endangerment and sexual battery, stemming from allegations she hosted drunken sex parties for young teenagers where she encouraged and watched sex acts among the underaged kids.
But the parents say police should have arrested O’Connor much sooner and that school officials did little to independently investigate the claims or warn the community about potentially dangerous parties. As NBC Bay Area first reported earlier this month, at least 10 months passed between the first report to the school and police about O’Connor and her eventual arrest this fall.
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“It makes me sick because they could’ve stopped it,” said the mom who first warned school officials and police about O’Connor in December 2020.
Parents say O’Connor tried to groom their underaged daughters for her son and his friends, taking alcohol orders from girls and secretly driving them to parties in the middle of the night while their parents were asleep.
“The way she contacted these kids and the lies she told the kids to tell their parents, it was sophisticated,” said a second mother, who began sending lengthy reports to the police and school officials in February.
“She’s picking up your kids in the middle of the night. She’s trying to target divorced families so there’s a little more confusion.”
Both moms say their families are still grappling with the trauma caused by O’Connor.
“She hurt my daughter,” one mother said. “This will be forever part of my daughter’s life.”
Neither O’Connor, her husband, not her attorneys have responded to interview requests from NBC Bay Area.
The police report – as well as school emails obtained by NBC Bay Area’s Instigative Unit – show that by March police and school officials were being flooded with troubling reports about O’Connor. By that time, more than 10 parents and students had already spoken to police, according to the report.
“My daughter’s first description of the [O’Connor] home was ‘it is a brothel,’” one parent reported to police on March 2.
“My daughter and myself would be more than happy to speak to you. [Redacted] also created a spreadsheet of Ms. [O’Connor’s] questionable actions if you would like to see it.”
But the two parents who spoke to NBC Bay Area said the police investigation was marred by a lack of urgency.
One mom said Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police downplayed the accusations against O’Connor, even suggesting the District Attorney’s Office wouldn’t be interested in prosecuting the case.
“[The detective] was like, ‘Oh, you know, once this even goes to the DA, even all this work you’ve done, it probably won’t go anywhere,’” the mom told NBC Bay Area.
According to the criminal complaint, O’Connor is accused of committing dozens of criminal acts between the first police report and her eventual arrest.
The parents also said school officials failed to take significant action independent of forwarding complaints to police, adding they had a duty to notify parents of potentially dangerous parties, even if they couldn’t directly name O’Connor in those warnings.
“They didn’t believe me, and they didn’t believe my daughter,” the first parent said. “It makes me sick because they could have stopped it.”
“We were taught to trust the police,” the mom said. “We’re taught that our school cares about our children. And they failed us. A lot of children were hurt in the process and they need to be held accountable for that.”
The Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department declined NBC Bay Area’s request for an on-camera interview, but said in a statement:
“The Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police department takes these cases seriously, devotes investigative resources immediately, and closely coordinates with the District Attorney’s Office to ensure collaboration throughout the investigation. The Police Department continues to work closely with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office on this investigation.”
Officials from Los Gatos High School and the district also declined interview requests from NBC Bay Area, but school principal Kevin Buchanan provided a statement saying the school kept information on O’Connor confidential because of the ongoing criminal investigation.
Emails show the school’s former principal notified police within five hours of receiving the first complaint about O’Connor.
"Last spring, upon learning of the rumors of inappropriate behavior taking place outside of school, Los Gatos High School immediately notified the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department (LGMSPD),” Buchanan wrote.
“In the spring of 2021, LGMSPD confirmed that they had opened both a criminal and Child Protective Services investigation and the school cooperated with all requests from investigators. Given that the school had limited information regarding the alleged behavior and that there was an active criminal investigation by law enforcement in which the school did not want to interfere, the information was kept confidential. When law enforcement verified the full extent of the charges and the school learned the identity of potential victims, the school contacted students and families to offer support."
After O’Connor was charged, the district sent an email to parents and wrote a letter to city council urging it to strengthen their social host ordinance, which holds hosts accountable for underage drinking.
But the moms say it was too little too late.
“They had a lot of information between February and June and the principal and assistant principals and athletic department did nothing,” one said. “I even reached out to coaches to say, ‘Hey, can you talk to these kids? I’m worried about them.’”
In addition to shedding new light on the timeline of parent complaints against O’Connor, the police report adds details on how the mom allegedly preyed on local children and how those children were harmed.
One girl told her parents O’Connor vetted underaged girls for parties. The girl reported that O’Connor said, “[one girl] can’t come because she doesn’t put out,” according to the police report.
Another report to police stated a drunk teen reportedly broke her hand at a party. In another instance, a parent reported finding a boy “standing in the dark on the streets without a shirt or shoes, wet from the pool” on a night where temperatures dipped below 50 degrees.
Parents also reported alleged harassing and bullying online behavior by O’Connor, saying O’Connor told one child on Snapchat, “I’m going to spread rumors about you!” over the mom’s fears her behavior would be exposed.
O’Connor was expected to enter a plea in court today, but the hearing was postponed until March. She has a bail hearing motion scheduled for January.
Candice Nguyen is an investigative reporter with NBC Bay Area. To contact her about this story or another email firstname.lastname@example.org.