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A California woman is found guilty of lying to police that a couple tried to kidnap her children

By Taylor Romine, CNN

A jury in California has convicted a woman of lying to authorities about a couple attempting to kidnap her children at a Bay Area Michaels craft store in 2020.

Kathleen Sorensen, 31, could serve up to six months in jail after the jury returned a guilty verdict on one count of false report of a crime, the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

The conviction stems from an incident on December 7, 2020, when Sorensen and her two children were shopping at a Michaels craft store in Petaluma, California, about 30 miles north of San Francisco.

After buying several items, Sorensen left with her two children and drove out of the parking lot, according to a news release from Sonoma County prosecutors. Several minutes later, Sorensen called the Petaluma Police Department to report a couple tried to kidnap her children.

Additionally, Sorensen recorded and posted a viral video on Instagram about the purported incident about a week later, according to the release.

In the video, Sorensen disclosed the incident in “great detail” and added “significant details that had not been disclosed to the Petaluma Police Department,” the district attorney’s office said. Sorensen also went on a local news program and repeated her account of events.

In a follow-up interview with police, Sorensen identified a couple from the store video as the individuals who tried to kidnap her children, the release said. But police said her report proved to be false and “was resoundingly contradicted by the accused couple as well as store video that was obtained,” according to the district attorney’s office.

Days following the incident, Sadie Martinez identified herself and her husband as the couple accused of the alleged kidnapping, the Petaluma Argus-Courier reported at the time. Sadie Martinez, who is Latina, suspected the incident was racially motivated — Sorensen is White.

“I couldn’t believe it. It’s like we’re literally guilty of being brown while shopping,” she said, according to the Argus-Courier.

After the verdict, she told Elle Magazine that she’s “happy” with the outcome.

“After (Sorensen) avoided accountability for years, and then hearing she was found guilty and walked out in handcuffs… yes, justice was served,” she said. “I feel like it’s a step in the right direction for my family. I’m grateful for the support.”

CNN has reached out to Martinez for comment.

The jury also found Sorensen not guilty on two additional charges.

Sorensen is “grateful that she was acquitted of two of the allegations against her,” her attorney, Charles D. Dresow, told CNN.

“The evidence introduced at trial was very different than how the case has been portrayed outside of the courtroom,” he said.

After the verdict, Sorensen was remanded into custody and bail was set at $100,000, the district’s attorney’s office said. She posted bail and was released until her June 14 sentencing date, Dresow said.

The maximum sentence for the misdemeanor is six months in jail, according to the district attorney’s office.

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