Bay Area officials arrested and charged a “mom influencer” after she allegedly falsely claimed that her children were the targets of an attempted kidnapping last December.
Last week, authorities charged the suspect, Katie Sorensen of Sonoma, with two counts of making false reports, one to a police dispatcher and another to a police officer. Sorensen faces up to a maximum of six months in prison for each charge against her.
Last year, the mother posted videos on her now-private Instagram account that quickly went viral on social media. “My children were the target of attempted kidnap. Which is such a weird thing to even vocalize, but it happened and I want to share that story with you,” Sorensen said.
The suspect claimed that on December 7 last year, she was out with her two children at the Michaels craft store in Petaluma. She said that while they were inside, a man and a woman followed them, allegedly “talking about the features of my children.”
Sorensen said the couple did not purchase anything at the store and continued to follow her family out into the parking lot. She said that the two took “two steps forward, two steps back” before attempting to get her stroller.
The mother said she called for help and reported the incident to a police officer. Later, she uploaded a video on social media warning other parents of the potential danger they face. “I saw these people. They didn’t look necessarily clean-cut. I felt uncomfortable around them, and instead of making them uncomfortable with my discomfort, I choose to remain in my discomfort,” Sorensen said.
Sorensen’s videos reached more than four million views before they were taken down. She went from having 6,000 Instagram followers to more than 80,000 in just one night.
However, Petaluma police said the couple accused of attempted kidnapping were innocent. Sadie and Eddie Martinez were cleared of any wrongdoing after the Petaluma Police Department finished its investigations. They said Sorensen’s story had many “inconsistencies.”
“To date, the investigation has produced no evidence or witnesses corroborating the account provided by the reporting party [Sorensen]. Evidence gathered has served to support the account provided by the couple from the store,” Petaluma police said in December.
The Petaluma Police Chief said they also continued the investigation of the case while considering a potential hate crime. However, authorities have not charged Sorensen with a hate crime. Esaia Gonzalez, Sadie Martinez’s daughter, said her family saw the videos go viral on social media, the San Francisco Gate reported.
In her video, Sorensen said she was not interested in pressing charges against her alleged kidnappers. However, police said when they interviewed her, she wanted the two to be prosecuted for the crime.
Authorities have scheduled Sorensen for a May 13 arraignment in court. “It was a good day today, not just for us. It gives everyone a little bit of help. Things like this do happen, and we wondered for a while if she would ever face charges,” Sadie Martinez said.