A white California "mom influencer" was convicted of fabricating a story about a Latino couple trying to kidnap her children outside of a store.
Katie Sorensen, 31, was found guilty of one count of making a false report of a crime, the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office said on Thursday. She was taken into custody on $100,000 bail.
Sorensen, of Sonoma, posted a video in December 2020 alleging 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.
The man and woman were identified by local media outlets as Sadie and Eddie Martinez. Authorities cleared them of any wrongdoing and said that the investigation into Sorensen's claims "produced no evidence" to support her allegations.
The district attorney's office said Thursday that Sorensen's report to police "was determined to be false and was resoundingly contradicted by the accused couple as well as store video that was obtained."
In Sorensen's social media video, she alleged that the couple had followed her into the store, trailed her as she shopped with her children in a stroller and made comments about her children's appearance.
Sorensen, who described herself on social media as a "mom influencer," said the couple gave her the "heebie-jeebies" and "weren’t clean-cut individuals."
She said she did not say anything to them because she was "paralyzed with fear." In the video, she further alleged that they followed her out of the store to her car and lingered near the stroller as she placed her children in the vehicle.
She claimed that the couple drove off after she yelled for help.
Sadie and Eddie Martinez denied Sorensen's claims and told the Petaluma Argus-Courier that they were at Michaels to buy Christmas decorations. They said they believe Sorensen's false allegations were racially motivated.
Sorensen was arrested and charged in 2021 with three misdemeanor counts of making a false report of a crime. She was found not guilty on two of the counts.
"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," Sonoma County District Attorney Carla Rodriguez said in a statement.
"The case is also important in that it illustrates the importance of using social media responsibly."
Sorensen's attorney, Charles Dresow, said in a statement, "The verdict of not guilty as to counts 1 and 2 rejects the theory that my client lied to the police on December 7th."
"The jury reviewed the actual evidence and found it to be very different than how the case has been portrayed outside the courtroom," Dresow said. "We are disappointed as to count 3 and will evaluate our options moving forward."
The maximum sentence for the conviction is six months in jail.