SAN JOSE, Calif. - The Los Gatos mother accused of giving minors alcohol and encouraging them to have sex pleaded not guilty in court on Monday morning following a grand jury indictment that resulted in more than 60 counts against her last week.
Shannon O'Connor, 49, was arraigned in Santa Clara County Superior Court on 20 felonies and 43 misdemeanors, including accusations of giving alcohol to children as young as 14 years old to the point of throwing up.
Deputy District Attorney Rebekah Wise, who is prosecuting the case, said "multiple children were left unconscious from alcohol intoxication, vomiting from alcohol intoxication, sexually abused unconscious. Or one with broken bones."
She quietly entered the courtroom on Monday wearing a green jail uniform and took a front-row seat.
Prosecutors said O'Connor engaged in this behavior over an 11-month period in 2020.
Her case experienced many delays for a number of reasons, during which seven new charges were filed against O'Connor.
Wise explained, "the new charges reflect felony sexual assault, felony dissuading a witness and additional child endangerment reflecting her conduct as we continue this investigation after we filed the original complaint."
O'Connor's attorneys considered a plea deal that would have resulted in a 17-year sentence, but ultimately, they chose to proceed to trial.
About 17 victims testified before the grand jury about how the events destroyed their lives, which ultimately led to the latest indictment.
The district attorney's office's unusual decision to use a grand jury indictment to advance the case to the arraignment phase may pose challenges for the defense.
Legal analyst Steven Clark said, "this was a missed opportunity for the defense team for Shannon O’Connor because they will not get a chance to cross-examine the victim and other witnesses at a preliminary hearing. They’re gonna have to relay on that grand jury transcript to give them the information they need to prepare for trial. For the prosecution, they’re saying, times up for Shannon O’Connor."
O'Connor is being held at the Elmwood Women's Complex in Milpitas.
She is scheduled to return to court on December 20 to confirm her counsel, and a potential trial date may be set.