The Sonoma influencer, who was charged with misreporting after accusing a Latino couple of attempting to kidnap their children, has brought in a high profile lawyer on her defense.
Katie Sorensen, 28, who may be jailed on two wrongdoing charges for misinformation to police and law enforcement officers, appears poised to fight the case, with a GoFundMe launched on her behalf to raise $ 50,000 .
And she hired “diehard trial attorney” Gail Shifman, a San Francisco-based criminal defense attorney with experience reviewing dozen of critical cases, to bolster her defense, which began in earnest Thursday.
When she was indicted in Sonoma County Superior Court Thursday, Sorensen filed a plea, sometimes motion to dismiss, in the court claiming that even if the allegations she faces were true, they were insufficient to substantiate a valid cause of action .
“In lay language, they say, ‘If all the facts are true, those facts are not enough,'” said Bill Brockley, assistant district attorney for Sonoma County.
Sorensen’s defense will have until Thursday to comment on the legal maneuver.
Shifman, a white collar crime specialist whose clients included the IRS analyst who pleaded guilty to divulging former Trump employee Michael Cohen’s banking information, didn’t respond to phone messages or emails for comment Thursday and Friday submit.
On her LinkedIn and SuperLawyers online profiles, Shifman touts her success in representing clients accused of sexual and gender-based harassment, domestic violence, and rape, and in obtaining acquittals or reduced sentences for others facing serious criminal charges are exposed.
She has also represented clients who have faced a variety of other charges, including insider trading, large-scale drug offenses, counterfeiting, extortion, child pornography and homicide.
On her LinkedIn profile, Shifman also highlights her ability to secure deals.
“Gail is also a master of victories that are won in silence outside the courtroom, far from the glare of the negative public,” said Shifman’s online profile.
Sonoma County attorneys upheld the two offense charges against Sorensen on April 29, each with a maximum sentence of six months in prison, Sonoma County Assistant District Attorney Brian Staebell said last month.
The prosecutor’s decision to indict Sorensen, a Sonoma-based Instagram influencer, came almost four months after accusing Petaluma’s parents Eddie and Sadie Martinez of trying their two children at a local Michaels craft store on December 7th to kidnap. Sorensen later documented the allegations, now widely viewed as a case of racial profiling, in two Instagram videos that garnered 4.5 million views and sparked a firestorm of media attention as they brought tens of thousands of new followers to Sorensen’s Instagram account.
In the videos released on December 13, Sorensen recounted in harrowing detail how she narrowly escaped two buyers trying to kidnap their two young children.
In the days following the high profile allegations, Petaluma police announced that Sorensen’s allegations were unfounded and cleared the couple of any wrongdoing. But the episode rocked the Martinez family after their innocuous trip to buy a decorative baby Jesus last December brought them into the public eye.
The family learned of their role in the story, which circulated like wildfire online, only after Petaluma police released security camera stills of the Martinezes.
“My child came to me and showed me the picture and said, ‘Mom, this looks like you,'” Sadie said in an interview with the Argus courier in December.
In the months since then, the couple, who are parents of five children, have come to terms with the allegations and have recently turned to activism and community engagement.
Petaluma Mayor Teresa Barrett appointed Sadie to the city’s citizen-led Advisory Committee on Policing and Racial Relations, where she recently debuted her version of the San Francisco Caren Act, which made racially-motivated calls a crime.
Sadie also has long-running victorious consequences for Sorensen, who blames her for bringing her family into the national limelight with allegations Sadie describes as a brazen racial profile case.
Following the prosecution’s decision to indict Sorensen in the case, Sorensen’s mother, Jill Turgeon, set up a GoFundMe with the aim of raising $ 50,000 for Sorensen’s legal defense.
In the GoFundMe post, Turgeon calls the allegations “completely misguided” and says the goal of raising $ 50,000 is to pay for legal fees and possible legal proceedings, signaling that Sorensen is ready to fight the allegations.
Since its inception on May 9, the campaign has raised $ 2,250 through 27 largely anonymous donations.
Brockley said it will likely be a few more weeks before the court has a chance to rule on the objection and continue the case or not.
“If the objection is granted, the court dismisses actions. Or the appeal can be denied, and when that happens, (Sorensen) will file a plea, followed by a conference and an appointment for the jury, ”Brockley said.