New York: An Indian-American engineer, who suffered prolonged domestic abuse at the hands of her Silicon Valley CEO husband, is outraged that the plea bargain reached with her husband is too lenient and justice is being thwarted as her abuser remains in the US.
Neha Rastogi, a former Apple engineer, had told Sunnyvale police in July that her husband Abhishek Gattani, co-founder of customer analytics startup Cuberon and a native of India had beaten her.
The two have a three-year-old daughter together.
Gattani, 37, had been charged with two felony counts of domestic violence, but pleaded no contest to felony accessory and a misdemeanor count of offensive touching.
Prosecutors agreed to a six-month jail term, to be served through a weekend work programme with 30 days of incarceration. With credits, Gattani could spend 15 days in custody. Sentencing is now scheduled for June 15.
“The system has shown me that concerns over Abhishek’s immigration status have completely trampled rights of my daughter, and my own,” Rastogi said in a report in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Rastogi had recorded a nearly six-minute-long video on May 17 last year, in which one could hear repeated thwacks in the presence of their then two-year-old daughter.
She said Gattani used to verbally abuse her as well. The report said the case offers an insight into California’s efforts to shield immigrants from undue harm, including a 2015 law that requires prosecutors to consider ways to head off deportations.
The report added that in an April 28 memo to the court, Santa Clara County Assistant District Attorney Brian Welch defended the plea deal as tough, saying it “struck hard blows, but not foul ones,” and took into account several factors, including the strength of the evidence, inconsistent statements in the past by Rastogi, and the likelihood of winning a conviction if the case went to trial.
“Rastogi laments that Defendant is once again getting a reduction of felony domestic violence charges because of possible immigration consequences, as he did in 2013, but that is not so,” Welch said, referring to Gattani’s previous arrest on suspicion of misdemeanor domestic violence.
In the 2013 case, Gattani had pleaded to a misdemeanor count of disturbing the peace.
Welch said his immigration status was only one factor in the decision to offer that disposition, just as it is only one factor in the current case.
Rastogi said after the 2013 case, she had hoped that Gattani “could change his ways and that I could give a complete family to our child.”
But she said she was done defending her husband. Prosecutors noted that Gattani has been in the country lawfully since 2003, has a child who is a US citizen, and employs nine people at his company.
Prosecutors sought a conviction “that would hold the defendant accountable but at the same time not make the defendant necessarily deportable,” Welch said in an interview to the paper.
Gattani’s attorney Michael Paez has also called the settlement fair, adding that he too was legally obligated to protect his client’s immigration interests.
While Rastogi is a US citizen, Gattani is believed to have a green card, according to court documents. Rastogi criticised the deal while making a victim-impact statement to the court.
She said in her court statement that her husband of 10 years abused her “for the entire duration” of their marriage by hitting her, pulling her hair, calling her names and threatening to kill her.
In a statement to a divorce judge in 2016, Rastogi said she was eight months pregnant when Gattani allegedly beat her during the 2013 incident that prompted his arrest.
However, prosecutors said in their April 28 memo, she actually gave birth to her daughter three months before that incident.