Women Chapter Desk:
For ten years, Neha Rastogi says, she was abused by her husband, Abhishek Gattani. But despite her recordings recording some of that abuse, the Santa Clara District Attorney’s office let him plead no contest to offensive touching and felony accessory after the fact and agreed to a deal in which he would serve less than two full weeks in jail. Here is excerpt from Rastogi’s full statement, as written, that she read aloud while Judge Allison Marston Danner was on vacation, asking her to change the terms of the prosecutor’s deal:
I appreciate this opportunity given to me to speak about my abuse at the hands of Abhishek Gattani, I thank for this time given to me to voice my concerns, and requests to you and this court in the case of People vs. Abhishek Gattani. I apologize that my statement is a bit long but I’ve been effectively silenced since the day I married Abhishek and now throughout these criminal court proceedings and this is my one and only chance to speak … so please bear with me.
First I’d like to bring to your attention a few facts, which I feel, have not been considered in this case while coming up with the plea deal granted to and accepted by Mr. Gattani.
1. I had been married to Abhishek Gattani for 10 years, and being battered by him for the entire duration. He hit me, multiple times during each incident on my face, arms, head, belly, pulled my hair and abused me and called me a bitch, whore, slut, bastard and much more in my language. Towards the last 4 years of our marriage he brainwashed me into admitting that I was a complete disgrace to him and the family we built and that if he was in my place, he would commit suicide out of shame, in other words telling me to commit suicide. He also started to threaten to kill me and when I expressed fear or feeling unsafe with him he called it “my self inflicted depression”. He was probably a few days away from killing me when I got out of this dangerous and abusive marriage – I had started getting my will done, my life insurance done, in other words started to prepare our child’s future once he kills me. I even mentioned to him that what if this happen to our child if this happens and he said “I will not leave you, I will kill you and then kill myself, our child (not mentioning her name here) is collateral damage”. Abhishek – she is NOT collateral damage – She is the best thing that happened between us and will remain so.
2. Finally on 1st July 2016, I reported abuse to the authorities. Abhishek Gattani was arrested once before on 30 November 2013, as he was beating me punching me in the head and grabbing me from the neck, out in the open (on the street) when our mailman reported his abuse. He was convicted for this violence against me in this very court in 2014. His first arrest on felony battery charge was reduced to misdemeanor – disturbing the peace on account of POSSIBLE immigration consequences. The same reason being given by his defense attorney Mr. Paez (who I hired for Abhishek during the first case), this time around to enable reduction and leniency in the plea deal offered to this serial aggressor. I helped Abhishek escape a harsher punishment, because, being from India, I did not know better, I did not understand the American criminal justice system and above all I hoped like a fool that this might bring some change in him.
3 .He was also required to take a 52-week anger management class as part of his previous sentence.
4. This time around there is evidence in the form of audio and video clips which clearly show and prove that Abhishek was hitting me (repetitively hitting me on the face and body), there are videos of him threatening to stab me 45 times and many of these videos show this abuse towards and happening in the presence of our then 2.5 year old child. There is also evidence in the form of pictures of bruises obtained from these beatings. There is also evidence of his parents confirming (over a video recording) to his physical abuse against them (both father and mother) as well as Abhishek’s younger sister.
5. Abhishek and I have a now ~3.5 year old daughter together who has been exposed to and has been impacted from, his abusive – aggressive behavior.
I feel disgraced by the charges – 3 years of abuse towards our child and 10 years of abuse towards me has equated to 15 days of his life in jail. The system has shown me that concerns over Abhishek’s immigration status has completely trampled rights of my daughter and my own. How is it that this is the second time he has been convicted of Domestic Violence and this is the charge.
Between the prosecution and defense, I’ve been marginalized and honestly insulted. What I have suffered at Abhishek’s hands has become insignificant in favor of considerations for Abhishek’s job, immigration status. What about our child, what about me? We both experienced domestic violence from Abhishek, yet our voices cannot reach the authorities. The plea deal given to him is not punishment for his doings rather an encouragement for continuing his ways, with just one lesson to be learnt by him – to keep it under the covers next time and that he should silence the next victim and not just control her. He was shown leniency by this court in his previous case, but the same shown this time around, stands no basis. Seriously, how many chances does a grown up, educated, CEO of a tech startup need to understand that he is not to hit anyone or else he will have consequences like going to jail, or even being deported.
I am appalled by the sentence he is getting.
The reason I speak out now, is that, no anger management classes can help a man who doesn’t think he did anything wrong when he HIT and ABUSED others to control them, once someone escapes their guilt the only thing that stops them is serious consequences – which is a rightful conviction. I see that the defense council has requested his felony charge to be reduced to a misdemeanor in the future. This is the same criminal who has already fooled the system for 3 years after being convicted for the same crimes. I can almost confirm he will do the same again.
I cannot articulate my despair at this treatment of his crimes. It’s as if we are giving him a slap on his wrist because he got caught … this is barely any consequence for him for ruining the childhood of our daughter and the 10 best years of my life. I believe you as the judge in this case have the power to rethink what is being given away here in the name of equal rights. Rights come with consequences too. I believe you have the power to stop any further leniency then already being given to him by the DA’s office. I believe you have the power to restore some faith in my heart that I wasn’t completely made a fool of, by this criminal and the judicial system.
I request you the following:
1. no jail credits are given to him and he serves full sentence of 30 days in county jail (CJ),
2. he be arrested today and made to serve his CJ sentence from right now; and
3. his Felony charge NEVER be reduced to a misdemeanor.
I request this to you knowing fully well that YOU have the power to do so. Rest, please do what you think is right and would help you sleep tonight.
Once again, thank you for this opportunity to state the facts and voice my disappointment. Thank you for listening to me everyone.
Reproduced from The Daily Beast.