A white California “mom influencer” who said a Latino couple tried to kidnap her children was charged after police said she fabricated the story.
Katie Sorensen, of Sonoma, was charged Thursday with two counts of making false reports, the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office said. One was made to a police dispatcher and another to an officer, according to authorities.
Sorensen faces a maximum of six months in jail for each charge.
It was not clear Tuesday if she had obtained an attorney, and Sorensen could not be reached at phone numbers listed for her.
In December, she posted a video on social media saying that a man and woman tried to kidnap her two children in the parking lot of a Michaels craft store in Petaluma, about 40 miles north of San Francisco.
Sorensen reported the fabricated incident to police, which prompted an attempted kidnapping investigation.
The Petaluma police released a photo of a man and woman but cleared the couple after speaking with them. In a December statement, police said that the “investigation has produced no evidence or witnesses corroborating the account provided by the reporting party.”
“Evidence gathered has served to support the account provided by the couple from the store,” police continued.
In her social media video, Sorensen said that a man parked near the back of the Michaels lot approached her as she was putting her children in a double-stroller.
She said the man looked “for a while” and got back into his car, but then followed her inside the store. Sorensen said in the video that the man was accompanied by a woman and they gave her the “heebie-jeebies.”
“I didn’t feel good, but I thought I was judging a book by its cover. They were not kind, that sounds bad, but they weren’t clean-cut individuals,” she said.
Sorensen, who describes herself on social media as a “mom influencer,” went on to allege that the couple made comments about what her children looked like as they followed her. She said she didn’t say anything to the couple because she was “paralyzed with fear.”
In the video, Sorensen said she finished her shopping, paid for the items and began walking to her car when she noticed the couple was still following her. At one point, she described how the man walked toward her car and took “two steps forward toward the stroller” before taking “two steps back.”
She claimed that the couple drove off after she yelled for help.
The couple was identified by local media as Sadie and Eddie Martinez. According to the Petaluma Argus-Courier, they denied the allegations in a December news conference and said they were at Michaels to buy Christmas decorations.
The couple said they believe Sorensen’s false allegations were racially motivated.
“I couldn’t believe it. It’s like we’re literally guilty of being brown while shopping,” Sadie Martinez said.
“I don’t know if anyone’s been paying attention the last four years, but there’s been a lot of racism going on and well, Katie’s following suit,” she continued. “Am I shocked? No. But will we stand for it? Hell no.”
Sadie Martinez told the outlet Thursday that she was happy Sorensen was charged. “It’s a nice step toward justice. It gives you hope,” she said.
Darryl Morin, with the group Forward Latino in Wisconsin, called on social media sites to remove Sorensen’s video and replace it with a message that says her allegations are false.
“This was not some random act. This was something that was calculated and orchestrated to, we believe, create fear in the community, create greater division, and to promote hate,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday. “When we see somebody intentionally make these racist accusations to promote themselves, it can have catastrophic consequences on members of our community.”