Not even a recorded video or police record seemed to have an impact on the sentence.
Neha Rastogi, a former quality engineer for Apple, had been abused by her husband throughout their ten-year marriage.
She says Abhishek Gattani would beat her arms, slap her face, punch her in the stomach and force her to stand for hours at the foot of their bed. She says he constantly called her derogatory names and psychologically abused her, convincing her that she was inadequate and had brought the torture on herself.
Over the years, she learned how to tell when an attack was coming — which is how she knew to hit her iPhone’s record button just before the incident on May 17, 2016.
In the video, Gattani — the CEO of a Silicon Valley startup — can be heard quizzing his wife on software bugs.
“We are talking about a bug, what is a bug…Neha…Rastogi?” he asks in a measured and patronizing tone.
“Let’s say you…” Rastogi begins before being cut off.
“No, no, no,” her husband says. “When did I say that’s a bug? We talked about bugs right? Is it getting very difficult for you to focus? You really do need help. You need me to take another step and come to you. You need help?”
This back and forth continues for a couple minutes before the first blow can be heard.
Then there’s another whack. Then seven more, as Rastogi cries and Gattani’s software questions continue. Their three-year-old daughter was in the room at the time.
The couple had been involved in another domestic violence case in November 2013, when a postal worker called police and stated that a man was beating a woman outside a home in Sunnyvale, California.
Witnesses said Gattani had been “pushing and pulling her along the sidewalk while punching her with a closed fist in the side and back multiple times.”
He was charged with felony assault which, at Rastogi’s insistence, had been reduced to a misdemeanor.
Now, three years later, she is upset for the opposite reason. She insists the plea deal reached between the state prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Steve Fein, and her husband’s legal team is much too lenient.
The top charge against Gattani is felony accessory after the fact with a misdemeanor added for “offensive touching.”
Fein claims that Rastogi did not object when he presented the terms of the plea deal to her, but the victim statement she presented on Thursday suggests otherwise.
“’Offensive touching!!!,'” the statement exclaims. “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?”
Responding to the statement, Fein said that Rastogi had “changed what she told me,” adding that this case was only focused on the one recorded incident — not a decade of purported abuse.
For that incident, he said, Gattani’s plea deal — which will result in 30 days or less of incarceration coupled with a community service — was normal.
“[He] didn’t get a lighter deal, he didn’t get a heavier deal,” Fein said.
Fein wasn’t the only one in the courtroom caught off guard by Rastogi’s emotional statement.
Having already been informed of the plea deal, the judge assigned to the case had gone on vacation on the day of the sentencing — likely assuming no new accusations would be presented.
Judge Rodney Stafford was filling in.
“So, until today, about 15 minutes ago, I knew nothing about the case,” he said after the victim impact statement was read. “So, I don’t know how the negotiations were arrived at. I assume that the matter was negotiated in good faith by both the prosecution and the defense.
“However, it gives me pause and gives me some concern that Judge Danner, [who] was basically part of the matter of settling this matter, may not have known some of the things you have brought to the attention of this court.”
Stafford asked Rastogi if she had a copy of the statement and promised to give it to Judge Danner. He postponed the sentencing until May 18, when Danner will have returned and had a chance to read the additional information.
Next, learn about the 19-year-old rapist who was sentenced to government-mandated celibacy in Idaho Then, read about ongoing lawsuit against Trump for inciting campaign violence.