By: Bridie Beamish
Shannon O’Connor pled not guilty to 63 charges, including 20 felonies and 43 misdemeanors, on Nov. 6. The former Los Gatos resident has been in jail for the past two years on charges of child endangerment, sexual battery, and supplying minors with alcohol. In October of 2021, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office charged O’Connor with 39 counts, which have now risen due to an ongoing investigation.
The charges came a week after the jury indicted O’Connor, which resulted in formal charges that raised her maximum conviction sentence from 20 to 31 years. Her minimum sentence, if convicted, would be three years in prison. In May of 2022, the court offered O’Connor a plea deal, a sentence of 17 years and four months in prison if O’Connor reversed her not-guilty plea. However, O’Connor declined to change her plea.
Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Rebekah Wise, who is prosecuting the case, explained, “We believe that the 63 charges returned in the indictment adequately reflect the crimes that the defendant committed against 13 minor children who were 14 years old at the time that they were abused by Ms. O’Connor. Multiple children were left unconscious from alcohol intoxication, vomiting from alcohol intoxication, sexually abused, unconscious, or one with broken bones.”
The charges following the indictment consist of 17 counts of child endangerment, two counts of sexual penetration of an intoxicated person, and one count of attempting to dissuade a victim or witness from reporting a crime. The misdemeanors include child endangerment and supplying alcohol to underaged individuals. The court ordered O’Connor to return on Dec. 20 to set a date for the trial.
After two years without a trial, the indictment guarantees O’Connor the right to a trial within 60 days. O’Connor was set to have a preliminary hearing last spring, which the court rescheduled to August. However, the court delayed the hearing again due to a skin infection that hospitalized O’Connor. With the grand jury indictment, the case can proceed without a preliminary hearing.
Prosecutors pushed for this indictment after 17 victims testified before the grand jury to depict the damaging effects of O’Connor’s crimes. The indictment serves as an attempt to alleviate stress for the 13 teenage victims caused by the repeated rescheduling of their court testimonies. Wise expressed, “Every time it is set for preliminary hearing, their anxiety understandably ramps up as they get prepared to testify and relive what the defendant did to them. As it is continued last-minute, their anxiety continues.”
(Sources: Kron4, KTVU Fox 2, LA Times, NBC, The Mercury News)
Categories: Local News