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A white California mother and social media influencer has been charged with giving false information to police after she accused a Latino couple of attempting to kidnap her children at a craft store in December, Sonoma County prosecutors confirmed last week.
Katie Sorensen is facing two misdemeanor charges months after posting an Instagram story in which she made baseless accusations against Sadie and Eddie Martinez, accusing them of attempting to kidnap her two kids on Dec. 7 at a Michael’s craft store. Sorensen's Instagram post went viral before being widely denounced as racial profiling.
“This is hard for me. I'm not ready to share this story but I know it's important and I would rather be uncomfortable and get the message out,” Sorensen told her followers. “On Monday, like I said, my children were the targets of attempted kidnap… I want to share that story with you in an effort to raise awareness as to what signs to look for.”
Sorensen went on to describe how a man had looked at her 4-year-old and 1-year-old children in the store’s parking lot, and she later heard the couple describe them to someone on the phone.
“I heard them talking about the features of my children. I was totally paralyzed with fear, I just couldn't bring myself to say anything,” she told her followers.
Sorensen said that the couple was behind them in line at the Michael’s, then “followed” her family to the parking lot without buying anything, KTVU reported. There was a white van parked next to her vehicle when she returned to her car, she said. At that point, she said on her now-defunct Instagram account, the couple took two steps toward her, then two steps back.
“Two steps back — very awkward,” she claimed. “There is no other explanation as to what they were doing besides [that] they were just building the courage.”
Sorensen told her followers that the man then reached for her stroller. At that point, she yelled for help from a bystander.
“The gentlemen looked at me and his eyes were huge — he saw what was going on and I just yelled for help,” she said.
At that point, a man got out of the white van who she said acted as if he were going to assist her, but then drove off, she recalled.
“I saw these people that didn’t look necessarily clean-cut,” Sorensen said on Instagram. “I felt uncomfortable around them, and instead of making them uncomfortable with my discomfort, I chose to remain in my discomfort.”
The Martinezes have said that they went to Michael’s to buy a decorative baby Jesus ahead of the Christmas holiday.
After Sorenson reported her version of events to law enforcement, police released an image of the couple asking for witnesses to come forward; no evidence or witnesses to corroborate Sorensen's story emerged. Days after her high-profile accusation, Petaluma police announced Sorensen’s claims of attempted kidnapping had no merit. She has been charged with giving false information to a police officer and giving false information to a police dispatcher. Each comes with a maximum penalty of six months in jail. Her arraignment scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on May 13, local outlet the Argus-Courier reported.
Sadie and Eddie Martinez, who are parents of five, only learned of the accusation when one of their children showed them the security footage released to the public. They have campaigned since to have Sorensen held accountable for her actions.
“We’re very happy with the news,” Sadie Martinez said last week after hearing of the charges. “It’s a nice step toward justice. It gives you hope.”
After being falsely accused of kidnapping, Sadie Martinez launched the #ProsecuteKatie movement online and has since been appointed to Petaluma’s advisory panel on policing and race relations.
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