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Mom Influencer Convicted Of Falsely Reporting A Crime For Claiming Latino Couple Tried To Kidnap Her Kids
Katie Sorenson was convicted of falsely reporting a crime for claiming in a viral social media video and to police that a Latino couple, who have since come forward as Eddie and Sadie Martinez, attempted to kidnap her young children.
An influencer mom from California was convicted on Thursday of falsely reporting a crime for claiming in a viral 2020 Instagram video that a Latino couple, who have since been cleared of wrongdoing, attempted to kidnap her children.
Jurors deliberated for a full day before declaring 31-year-old Kathleen Sorenson guilty, according to a Sonoma County District Attorney's Office press release. She was taken into custody after the verdict was read and her bail was set at $100,000. She faces a maximum of six months in jail. A sentencing date has yet to be scheduled.
“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," wrote District Attorney Carla Rodriguez. "The case is also important in that it illustrates the importance of using social media responsibly.”
On Dec. 7, 2020, Sorenson posted two videos to her Instagram account, @motherhoodessentials, claiming that her 4-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter were the targets of an attempted kidnapping at a Michaels craft store in Petaluma, located in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In the videos, which were viewed more than 4 million times and accrued 80,000 additional followers for the influencer, Sorenson claimed that a man and woman followed her while she shopped and "made comments concerning the appearance of her children," according to a Petaluma Police Department press release from Dec. 16 of that year, days after the mother reported the bogus kidnapping attempt to police.
Sorenson appeared on the local TV station, saying that the man attempted to reach into her stroller to pull out her child once they reached the parking lot and that a white van was parked next to her vehicle at the outer reaches of the lot. She called for help and the couple hopped into the van and drove away, she claimed.
“I saw these people, they didn't look necessarily clean cut,” she said. “I felt uncomfortable around them, and instead of making them uncomfortable with my discomfort, I chose to remain in my discomfort.”
Officers sought witnesses to the incident, writing that "patrol officers had searched the area where the incident occurred but were unable to locate the involve parties" and that there was "insufficient evidence to establish that a crime had occurred."
A photo pulled from surveillance camera footage from the Michaels location picturing a Latino couple, who Sorenson identified as the perpetrators to police, was distributed, according to Thursday's press release.
When one of their five children recognized them in the security stills, Sadie and Eddie Martinez came forward to Petaluma police, and were quickly cleared of any wrongdoing.
"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," read the press release.
In a press conference, the Martinez couple said that while they had been at the Michaels store at the same time as Sorenson and her children on Dec. 7 of 2020, they were shopping for Christmas decorations and entirely unaware of the narrative being spun around them.
"It's like we're literally guilty of being Brown while shopping," Sadie Martinez said, according to The Press Democrat.
Sadie started the #ProsecuteKatie movement against Sorenson after the mother's claims were denounced as racial profiling and was appointed to Petaluma's advisory panel on race relations and policing.
Sorenson's attorney Charles Dresow has maintained that his client did not intentionally lie to police.
"My client testified under oath at trial and maintains that there was no kidnapping on December 7," Dresow said, according to ABC News. "She misperceived and misunderstood a series of random events which were occurring around her and made an honest report to the police on December 7."