‘Influencer mom’ who falsely claimed couple of attempted kidnapping sentenced to jail

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An Instagram ‘influencer mom’ was sentenced to jail on Thursday for posting viral videos about a falsely claimed attempted kidnapping.  

Kathleen “Katie” Sorensen, 30, accused a Petaluma couple of attempting to kidnap her young children while she was shopping in an arts and crafts store. 

Her Instagram videos went viral in December 2020. 

Sorensen was previously convicted by a jury of knowingly reporting a false crime to police. 

Sonoma County Judge Laura Passaglia presided over Thursday’s sentencing hearing and ordered Sorensen to serve 90 days in jail, 60 of which could be served on a work release program. 

Sorensen was immediately remanded into custody to begin serving her sentence.

The judge also placed Sorensen on 12 months of probation, during which time she was ordered to have no social media presence, pay fines, submit to warrantless search and seizure of electronic devices, and complete an implicit bias training class.

The couple accused by Sorensen was Latino and was shopping for Christmas decorations inside a Michaels store on December 7, 2020, when Sorensen saw them. 

After purchasing her items, Sorensen returned to her car with her two young children and left Michaels’ parking lot. 

A few minutes later, Sorensen called the Petaluma Police Department and reported that a couple tried to kidnap her children. 

A week later, she took to Instagram and uploaded videos talking in detail about the attempted kidnapping of her 1-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son. 

Sorensen told her social media followers she was raising “awareness” for protecting children. 

“My children were the targets of attempted kidnap,” Sorensen said in one video uploaded to her account, @motherhoodessentials. “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.”

The videos went viral and had millions of views. 

“There were significant additional details that were included in her Instagram video that had not been disclosed to the Petaluma Police Department,” prosecutors wrote.

Petaluma Police Department officers talked to Sorensen to investigate holes in her story. In that interview, Sorensen identified a Petaluma couple from the Michaels store’s surveillance camera as the kidnappers. 

Sadie Martinez, one of the two people falsely accused, told the press, “I couldn’t believe it. It’s like we’re literally guilty of being brown while shopping.”

At trial, it was proven that Sorensen made a false report. 

Sorensen was facing a maximum sentence of six months in jail before the 90-day sentence. 

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.”

Jail inmate records show the “influencer mom” was booked into Sonoma County Main Adult Detention Facility in Santa Rosa at 12:48 p.m. Thursday.


Charlene is a Bay Area journalist who hails from the small community of Fresno. Drawing from her experience writing for her college paper, Charlene continues to advocate for free press and local journalism. She also volunteers in all the beach cleanups she can because she loves the water.