A parenting influencer has been charged with giving false information to police after going viral last year by claiming in a series of Instagram videos that her children were nearly kidnapped at a craft store.
Katie Sorensen has been charged with two misdemeanors in the incident, a spokesperson for the Sonoma County District Attorney's Office confirmed to BuzzFeed News. Her next court date will be May 13.
Sorensen's tale of barely escaping a pair of kidnappers at her local Michaels store in Northern California blew up on social media in December after she posted it on her Instagram account, @motherhoodessentials (she has since changed her handle to @motherhoodessentials_ and is now private).
In two Instagram videos, Sorensen told her audience that she had been the victim of an "attempted kidnap" a week prior. She claimed a couple had followed her around the store and made comments about her children. She also said that the man had even lunged at her stroller.
However, after investigating the incident and identifying the couple from the store, Petaluma police said they found no evidence of a crime. Instead, they said they have found evidence that supported the couple's version of events.
The couple, Sadie Vega-Martinez and Eddie Martinez, came forward and accused Sorensen of racial profiling them because they are Latino. They also told a local newspaper on Thursday they were relieved to hear of the charges.
“We’re very happy with the news,” Sadie told the Petaluma Argus-Courier. “It’s a nice step toward justice. It gives you hope.”
In December, Vega-Martinez's daughter, Esaia Gonzalez, told BuzzFeed News her mom and stepdad have five children between them and two grandchildren. Her stepdad works in the community as a UPS driver.
Gonzales said she was horrified at the allegations against her parents, who she says were shopping and probably speaking about their own grandchildren, not Sorensen's kids, in the store. She accused Sorensen of racial profiling.
"This isn’t the first racist injustice to occur in Petaluma by a long shot, but we are definitely grateful that in this case the truth was rightfully pursued," she said.
The incident made waves in the town, leading many local activist organizations to call for the community to support the couple and for Sorensen to face consequences.
Vega-Martinez has since become an activist and was appointed by the town's mayor to be a part of an advisory committee on policing and race relations, according to the Petaluma Argus-Courier.