Sonoma Instagram influencer faces criminal charges

The mom and influencer at the center of viral kidnapping allegations at a Petaluma Michaels last December has been charged with giving false information to police, Sonoma County prosecutors confirmed Thursday.

Katie Sorensen, of Sonoma, faces two misdemeanor charges four months after she accused a Latino couple from Petaluma of attempting to kidnap her two children Dec. 7 at a local craft store.

A week after Sorensen first went to Petaluma police to report suspicious behavior, she described an attempted kidnapping in videos posted to her Instagram account, drawing 4.5 million views and a flurry of international attention before deleting the videos amid scrutiny.

Sorensen did not respond to social media messages or a message left at a phone number linked to one of her social media accounts. Her attorney, Marin-based Charles Dresow, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

The people she identified to police in Michaels security camera footage turned out to be Sadie Martinez and Eddie Martinez, Petaluma residents and parents of five, who had gone to the store to buy a decorative baby Jesus.

The family learned of its part in the tale that had circulated like wildfire in local online circles only after Petaluma police released security camera stills of the Martinezes.

“My kid came to me and showed me the picture, and said, ‘Mom this looks like you’,” Sadie Martinez said in an interview with the Argus-Courier in December.

On Dec. 17, three days after Sorensen filed the police report, Petaluma law enforcement officials said there was “no evidence” to support her kidnapping claim. At a news conference outside of the craft store the following day, Sadie publicly identified herself and called for Sorensen to be prosecuted.

In a phone call Thursday morning, a representative with the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office personally told Sadie of the charges against Sorensen, Sadie said via Facebook Messenger.

Sonoma County Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Staebell said the charges - giving false information to a police officer and giving false information to a police dispatcher - each come with a maximum penalty of six months in jail.

Staebell said Sorensen has already been notified of the charges, with arraignment scheduled for 8:30 a.m. May 13.

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