Despite much outrage from the Indian American community, a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge re-affirmed a plea deal June 15 that allows a former Silicon Valley CEO to serve only 13 days in jail for allegedly abusing his wife for over a decade.
In a deal worked out with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office earlier this year, Indian American Abhishek Gattani, former CEO of Cuberon, had agreed to plead no contest to misdemeanor “offensive touching” and felony accessory after the fact.
His wife, Neha Rastogi, a former Apple engineer, had accused Gattani of battering her for a decade, and had recorded her husband 13 times while he was reportedly speaking abusively and physically abusing her, often in front of their young daughter. Gattani had previously been charged with domestic violence in 2013, when he allegedly pulled his wife by her hair down the street where they live, but Rastogi’s attorney managed to get the sentence reduced to a misdemeanor.
The deal had Gattani serving a jail sentence for 30 days, but with good behavior and time already served – two days – he will only serve 13 days in jail with three years’ probation, according to the sentence affirmed by Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Allison Marston Danner, who had been reviewing the agreement for the past 45 days.
Gattani will also have to serve five months of community service – such as picking up roadside trash – and will undergo a 53-week anger management program. He will be monitored for alcohol abuse – a factor Danner said may have contributed to his physical abuse of Rastogi and his violent outbursts. He will also have to contribute $500 to domestic violence organizations.
Gattani was ordered to begin his jail sentence June 16.
Rastogi read out a statement in court June 15 in which she accused the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office of victimizing her in a sentencing memo, which noted she had withdrawn more than $900,000 from the couple’s joint bank account, implying that she had a financial motive in bringing about the charges against her husband.
Rastogi noted that domestic violence organizations always advise women to secure their assets before leaving their husbands, especially if children are involved. Moreover, she said, Gattani has paid no child support, spousal support or insurance, mortgage, and childcare payments.
Rastogi also said she was astounded by the charge of “accessory after the fact,” and questioned the use of such a charge in a domestic violence case. “The only person who committed such egregious abuse against me is Abhishek. How is he an accomplice?” the Indian American woman queried.
“The DA’s public memo makes me feel that this office was so busy trying to do damage control in the wake of adverse public opinion over their handling of this case, that they totally disregarded my civil rights or the effect of 10 years of abuse and they deliberately crafted the harmful impact of this public memo,” stated Rastogi in her court statement.
Indian American community activist Papiha Nandy – who organized a nationwide rally June 15 to garner support for Rastogi — told India-West it was “heart-breaking” that 12 audiotapes, in which Gattani is reportedly heard brutally abusing his wife, were inadmissible as evidence.
“We have to change the laws of the land so that abused women do not have to bear the burden of proof,” she said.
Nandy said she grew up in a culture of domestic violence where women were told not to discuss the abuse meted out to them, and to accept it as part of their lives. “We need to have zero tolerance for men who abuse women,” she said.