A social media influencer was sentenced to jail for fabricating kidnapping accusations against a couple at an arts and crafts store in Petaluma, California.
Kathleen "Katie" Sorensen, 31, was sentenced on Thursday to 90 days in jail, 60 of which could be carried out on a work-release program. Sorensen was also placed on 12 months of informal probation and will be prohibited from having a social media presence during this time.
CBS News reported, "Along with jail time, the judge ordered Sorensen to 12 months of probation 'during which time she was ordered to have no social media presence, submit to warrantless search and seizure, to include her electronic devices, complete a 4-hour implicit bias training, as well as various fines and fees.'"
Sonoma County District Attorney Carla Rodriguez said, "Ms. Sorensen has been held accountable for her crime, and we believe the judge handed down a fair sentence. Our hope is that this measure of accountability will help provide some closure to the couple that was falsely accused of having attempted to kidnap two young children."
In April, Sorensen was convicted on one count of making a false report of a crime.
On Dec. 7, 2020, Sorensen contacted the Petaluma Police Department and claimed that a couple attempted to kidnap her two young children at a Michaels craft store.
Sorensen – a so-called "momfluencer" – posted a video on Instagram a week later claiming that a couple tried to kidnap her 1-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son. The video went viral, and garnered millions of views.
"My children were the targets of attempted kidnap," Sorensen said in a video. "It happened. I want to share that story with you in an effort to raise awareness as to what signs to look for. I heard them talking about the features of my children. I was totally paralyzed with fear."
In the video, Sorensen proclaimed that she was trying to raise "awareness" for protecting children.
"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."
Prosecutors said, "There were significant additional details that were included in her Instagram video that had not been disclosed to the Petaluma Police Department."
Investigators with the Petaluma Police Department interviewed Sorensen again about the holes in her story.
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."
The couple denied accusations that they attempted to kidnap the influencer's kids.
Sadie Martinez, one of the two people falsely accused, told the Press Democrat , "I couldn’t believe it. It’s like we're literally guilty of being brown while shopping."
During the trial, prosecutors found that Sorensen whipped up a kidnapping hoax, likely for clicks on social media.
"Ms. Sorensen’s report was determined to be false and resoundingly contradicted by the accused couple as well as store video that was obtained," prosecutors proclaimed.
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Mom influencer sentenced for kidnapping hoax | GMA www.youtube.com