A California "momfluencer" was convicted for making up a fake kidnapping story against a Latino couple. The couple claimed that the false allegations were racially motivated.
Katie Sorensen, 31, was found guilty of one count of making a false report of a crime, the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office said on Thursday. Sorensen was taken into custody on $100,000 bail.
District Attorney Rodriguez stated, “This verdict will enable us to hold Ms. Sorensen accountable for her crime, while at the same time helping to exonerate the couple that was falsely accused of having attempted to kidnap two young children. The case is also important in that it illustrates the importance of using social media responsibly.”
In December 2020, Sorensen claimed that a man and woman attempted to kidnap her two children in the parking lot of a Michaels craft store in Petaluma, a city roughly 40 miles north of San Francisco. She reported the alleged crime to the Petaluma Police Department.
About a week later, the mom influencer posted a video on social media talking about the alleged kidnapping attempt. The Instagram video regarding the alleged child abduction attempt went viral, quickly racking up more than 4 million views. Sorensen has since deleted her Instagram account, which had nearly 60,000 followers.
"My children were the targets of an attempted kidnapping,” Sorensen said at the time. "I want to share that story with you in an effort as to what signs to look for and encourage parents to be more aware of their surroundings and what is going on around them."
Sorensen also appeared on a local news program to discuss the alleged kidnapping attempt.
Sorensen fingered Sadie and Eddie Martinez in the alleged kidnapping attempt. The social media influencer claimed that she was "paralyzed with fear" when the couple allegedly attempted to kidnap her children. The couple was at Michaels purchasing a decorative baby Jesus.
The couple denied the California woman's accusations.
NBC News reported, "Sorensen, who described herself on social media as a 'mom influencer,' said the couple gave her the 'heebie-jeebies' and 'weren’t clean-cut individuals.'"
However, police determined that Sorensen fabricated the fake kidnapping attempt.
"Officers from the Petaluma Police Department followed up with Ms. Sorensen," the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office declared in a statement. "During that interview, Ms. Sorensen identified a Petaluma couple from Michael’s store video as being the perpetrators. Ms. Sorensen’s report was determined to be false and was resoundingly contradicted by the accused couple as well as store video that was obtained."
Sorensen "produced no evidence" to support her allegations, police said.
Sadie and Eddie Martinez told the Petaluma Argus-Courier that the kidnapping accusations made against them were racially motivated.
Sadie asked, "Do you really think it’s OK to go online and be racist and make stories about a family?"
Sonoma County District Attorney Carla Rodriguez said in a statement, "This verdict will enable us to hold Ms. Sorensen accountable for her crime, while at the same time helping to exonerate the couple that was falsely accused of having attempted to kidnap two young children. The case is also important in that it illustrates the importance of using social media responsibly."
Sorensen faces a maximum sentence of six months in jail.
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