‘Is This a Joke?’
Here Is the Powerful Statement a Wife Read Aloud to the Court and Her Abusive Husband
Neha Rastogi was allowed to deliver her victim-impact statement only after the prosecutor cut a deal with her husband and while the judge was on vacation.
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 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.
YH, this is the second time his abuse towards me has been reported to the state, but it is not the second time he has committed these crimes. Our child (3.5 years now) and I have taken many years of abuse, of which 3 years of abuse post his conviction in the matter from 2013. I hoped that he could change his ways and that I could give a complete family to our child. That hope died on 30th June 2016 and I reported his violent abuse towards our daughter and me on July 1st of 2016.
In these past few months I have tried come to terms with the fact that the man I married … the father of my child … is a horrible human being, and didn't deserve my care or respect or love and now, he doesn’t deserve another second of my mental space given the 10 years I have already wasted on him. He was a mistake and now I need to move on... but I find it difficult to move on when I feel wronged by the DA's office and this court. Honestly I feel fooled not just by a convicted criminal, aggressor, wife beater, batterer, that I unfortunately married - the worst mistake of my life but by this court as well. With all due respect to the system... I stand FOOLED, disgraced and ridiculed as a victim.
I wanted to speak up at the last hearing as well, but I was told today is the right time to do so. Honestly I am not sure why is it so, as it seems it's all done... what's the point of me speaking up now? I get heard to be ignored? to be told that the system understands the abuse and the impact it has had on our child and me but sorry it is what it is. I was told no jail, no classes, no penalties can change Mr Gattani. Is this the faith the DA’s office and the court have in the justice being provided in this court? Is that the reason for leniency in such cases? Have we given up on justice? Is that the thinking behind giving him a charge which honestly doesn’t add up to his crime AT ALL? I am no attorney but I can read and understand English. When I look up the charge: Felony – Accessory after the fact it means: Someone who assisted another 1) who has committed a felony, 2) after the person has committed the felony, 3) with knowledge that the person committed the felony, and 4) with the intent to help the person avoid arrest or punishment.
Please help me understand how is this a charge appropriate to the crimes he has himself admitted to in this very court. By taking the plea deal he has admitted to hitting me, he has admitted to threatening to kill me, he has admitted that he hit me and mentally tortured me throughout my pregnancy and his abuse resulted in me making multiple trips to the ER even as late as 8 months into my pregnancy. Please advise me how does accessory after the fact apply to a criminal like him? Who was he assisting while torturing me … who is that criminal, because if it wasn’t him shouldn’t this court be searching for that person. Please let me assure you as a victim of his abuse, you need to look no further – HE did it. His charge should be Felony – battery with the intent to harm if not kill.
The second charge on him is a “Misdemeanor – offensive touching”? I didn’t even need to look this one up, as it made me laugh when then I realized that I was laughing at myself, I was the joke here. “Offensive touching!!!” Please explain me is it offensive touching when a 8 month pregnant women is beaten and then forced to stand for the entire night by her husband, is it offensive touching when a mother nursing her 6 day old child is slapped on her face by her husband because he thinks she is not latching properly with the child, is it offensive touching when a women is flung to the floor and repetitively kicked in her belly, is it offensive touching when a women is slapped 9 times by her husband until she agrees to everything he is saying and then gets hit again for not agreeing with it sooner … is it offensive touching - I call it terrorism … That’s how I felt – terrorized and controlled held hostage by the fear of pain, humiliation and assault on my being and my daughter’s.
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.
This person preys on the mere perception of weakness and that’s what the system is exhibiting today. Multiple times in the past, Mr Gattani would come back home from Cuberon, his startup, after having an argument with his co-founder and tell me, “you and my co-founder (who shall remain unnamed) are the same – lazy, empty promise makers, Positive fools, with no results. I can’t trust him.” Mr Gattani, had the same remarks about friends and even successful, accomplished people as the main investors in his very startup just because they would show empathy and not aggression when approaching a challenging situation, calling them free loaders and lucky by being at the right place at the right time. Who is the free loader today if not him, and who is offering this leniency – the judicial system. This to him isn’t equality or rights but sign of weakness, which he takes advantage of. He has physically and mentally tortured his parents, his sister, his wife and now his 2.5 yr old daughter too – all because he looked at our values and morals and care for him as a sign of weakness, which he could misuse. He named our strength as our weakness and continuously took advantage of it. He will do the same here and I stand terrified of the consequences of that as a mother, as again a future victim and for all those who he would prey on in the times to come.
I am appalled by the sentence he is getting.
I believe justice will come to him, if not through this court then by God's decree on account of his doings but I do stand disappointed here as a law abiding citizen of the most powerful country in the world, feeling unprotected and ridiculed by a CRIMINAL… who is here pleading guilty for the same crimes committed against the same victim in just 3 years of the first REPORTED incident while ON probation.
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 believe in God and I will pray that we don't come back here in this very situation because this court was lenient with this convicted felon with a criminal history... I pray that I am proven wrong as peace is cheap at such cost... but if I am proven right this moment will stand very dark and very heavy in the minds of all of us who could have done something to stop that from happening.
I don’t understand the legal proceedings but I do seriously object to his request for getting to serve county jail post completion of the 5 month sheriff’s program. Is this a joke?. This criminal is asking for a chance to wrap up his business???? Really are we enrolling him in a spa of giving him a punishment for abusing his wife and child for 10 years. We are looking for the convenience of this felon who forced me multiple times to resign from my job (all recorded and provided as evidence) or else he will continue his abuse in front of our then 2.5-year-old child and not allow her to go to sleep … this leniency for a person of his morals and virtues?
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.