Los Gatos woman accused of organizing drunken parties for teenagers

LOS GATOS, CA – OCTOBER 12: The house of Shannon Brugar pictured in Los Gatos, California on Tuesday October 12, 2021. Shannon Bruga, has been arrested and faces 39 criminal charges, leading to felony and offense of endangering children, sexual According to authorities, the charges of battery, child abuse and misdemeanor for providing alcohol to minors. (Ray Chavez / Bay Area News Group)

LOS GATOS – A South Bay woman has been accused of organizing a series of illegal parties for her son and his friends in which investigators say she supplied alcohol, made them binge and binge them manipulated to have sex with intoxicated teenage girls – in some cases, facilitating sexual assault.

Shannon Bruga (Ada County Sheriff’s Office)

Shannon Bruga, also known as Shannon O’Connor, awaits extradition to Santa Clara County after being arrested on Saturday in Ada County, Idaho, where she has a home in addition to her residence in Los Gatos which is currently on the market.

She faces 39 criminal charges, including 12 counts of felony and 10 counts of endangering children, one count of sexual assault, three counts of child abuse and 13 counts of child abuse. offense of supplying alcohol to minors.

In a plan of investigation submitted by prosecutors, Bruga, 47, is characterized as obsessed with using text messages and Snapchat to throw secret alcohol-filled parties attended by up to 20 teens, in which she was the only adult and where she often caused them to drink to the point of sickness or unconsciousness.

“It took a lot of brave kids to come forward and unravel this deeply troubling matter,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement. “As a parent, I am shocked. As a prosecutor, I am determined to hold adults who endanger children fully accountable to the law and our community.

There was no immediate indication that any of the teens described as engaging in sex acts with drunk girls at Bruga parties will be prosecuted. Charges against a minor are generally not made public.

“It’s so terrible what she did to my daughter and these other children,” said the mother of one of the girls, who is not identified because her daughter was the victim of a crime. presumed. “My heart is breaking for these children. It was devastating. It is a parent’s worst nightmare.

The parties reportedly lasted from June 2020 – in the midst of the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic – to May 2021 and included at least half a dozen large events and several smaller gatherings mainly involving 14 and 15 year olds. .

RELATED: ‘Glad She’s Gone’: Los Gatos Collapses After Mom Arrested For Drunk Teen Sex Parties

A dominant element of the parties, as the teens reportedly told investigators, was that Bruga encouraged teens to have sex or engage in sexual acts, with minors in various states of intoxication, suggesting that many sexual interactions were not consensual.

Bruga’s son at the time was a player on the Los Gatos High School freshman football team, and the mother of one of the girls said the boys involved were teammates. This mother said she shared her concerns about alcohol use with coaches and school officials earlier in the year, but was told that as it was off campus there was nothing they could do.

“I really don’t think the high school took responsibility for her part of this,” the mother said.

In a statement, the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District said it is actively investigating “any issue that arises on our campuses and is working closely with law enforcement to support their investigation of issues that take place outside of school “.

“It is important to note that we take the subject of underage alcohol use very seriously and are constantly working to promote awareness and dialogue in our classrooms and our community,” the statement said. “In addition, parents and families also play a crucial role in setting clear expectations regarding the behavior of our young people and in monitoring their activities. It is only together that we can effectively address social issues such as drug addiction.

Bruga has reportedly been adamant that the teens who attended these parties are keeping them a secret, and she is accused of helping teens out of their homes at night and driving them to her house. According to investigators, she is accused of harassing at least one teenager whom she suspected of having broken the secret.

She also reportedly went to great lengths to hide the holidays from her husband Robert Amaral, who is currently the chief revenue officer of SlashNext, a Pleasanton-based tech company.

The physical toll of the parties’ participants was considerable, as court documents claim. Several teenagers reported drinking to the point of vomiting profusely, and the intoxication was so severe that a teenager broke a finger.

Investigators say Bruga saw a boy punching and kicking a girl who was intoxicated and did not intervene.

Bruga is also accused of leading a boy to a room where the same girl was lying on a bed “and of having entered and left of consciousness”. After Bruga left the room, the boy reportedly digitally penetrated the girl.

The young girl told investigators that she confronted Bruga after the incident, telling him, “Why did you leave me in there with him? Like why did you like to do that? Like you knew what he was going to do to me.

What Bruga would have “only laughed” at the question, according to the court document.

The girl also told investigators that at another party she almost drowned in a hot tub due to her poisoning. The girl reported that that same night, one of Bruga’s son’s friends digitally penetrated her into the hot tub and later fondled her in a bedroom and Bruga laughed as she watched the deeds.

The boy involved in these acts reportedly told investigators “that he was so intoxicated by the alcohol provided by (Bruga) that he has no recollection of what happened”.

Another account alleges that on December 19, Bruga drove his son and two of his friends in his SUV while they were drinking alcohol and allowed at least one of them to drive, without a license, in the Los Gatos High parking lot. At one point, his son and his friend latched onto the back of the vehicle as it moved, and the friend fell and hit his head, losing consciousness for 30 seconds.

The alleged ploy was almost exposed at that point, after someone saw the aftermath of the fall and called 911, prompting a police officer to overtake the vehicle at a nearby convenience store. But Bruga could have convinced the officer that the vomit-filled SUV was a product of the boys’ motion sickness. The injured boy “spent the night throwing up and nearly drowned in the tub from his intoxication,” investigators said, adding that a doctor later confirmed he had a concussion.

It was a major sign that parents were aware of what was going on.

Segments of the investigation plan suggest further signs that Bruga was actively trying to avoid police attention. For a Halloween party she hosted last year, she reportedly called the police ahead of time to tell them about the rally to avoid any potential noise violations.

Investigators said they determined that Bruga hosted at least two parties outside his Los Gatos home. An October 2020 party at a Santa Cruz cottage for his son’s 15th birthday – attended by a dozen teenage boys and girls – caused $ 9,000 in damages.

And investigators say they have found evidence that Bruga threw a party in Lake Tahoe on Feb. 15 in which she “concocted a story” for the teens to tell their parents about the trip, including assurances that no alcohol was drinking. would be involved and that the girls would stay in different rooms from the boys.

Bruga’s criminal history includes charges of robbery after she was accused of illegally debiting $ 120,000 from an employer’s business credit card. Under the name Shannon O’Connor, she indisputably pleaded three counts of filing false insurance claims in 2009.

“Everyone should feel relieved that this woman is not on the street,” said the mother of one of the girls. “She was grooming these kids, grooming them for sexual acts, and she’s a mother and does that to her own child. … I racked my brains trying to think of what was there for her.

Julia Prodis Sulek contributed reporting for this story.

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