Victim who survived 10 years of severe abuse. When she decided to leave for good, she did everything by the book.
April 13, 2017: The following is the victim impact statement read by Neha Rastogi in the case against her husband, Abhishek Gattani. He pleaded nocontest to a felony accessory after the fact to an unspecified crime and misdemeanor "offensive touching" in a negotiated deal that she felt was too lenient. The sitting judge felt compelled to continue the case so Judge Danner can decide when back to court.
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 1 st 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 52week 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 woman 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 cofounder
and tell me, “you and my cofounder (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 2.5yearold 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.Type your paragraph here.
The Abuser, Abhishek Gattani turned his bride's life into hell for ten years.
June 15, 2017 - Neha Rastogi addressed Judge Allison Danner at the Palo Alto Branch of Superior Court of CA, County of Santa Clara.
Thank you for this opportunity, once again, to address this court with the facts relating to the case of People vs. Abhishek Gattani.
A few weeks ago I stood in this Courtroom to address how the charges and possible sentencing brought against the defendant Abhishek Gattani appeared unjust and not in line with the crimes he committed. I requested that the judge to review the evidence and reconsider the plea deal offered by the DA’s office and accepted by Abhishek Gattani. Since then a lot has happened and I would like to address some of the most important and concerning events in my statement today.
Since the April 13th hearing, I have been reached out by - thousands of members of my community; DV advocates; attorneys; old friends; coworkers; members of my family and various others from AROUND THE WORLD - in support, solidarity and respect. As I result, it has left me with the feelings that I am not alone, I am brave, I matter, I have been wronged and above all - I should not give up.
Since April 13th, I have prayed for the safety of our daughter, my family and myself - which I believe can only be achieved by a rightful conviction in this matter. I have also prayed for the continuation of belief in this judicial system by everyone who has been affected by it (both directly and indirectly). Today this courtroom is not only full of supporters of only my cause, instead it is full of members of this community who are hoping to see that despite everything that has been mishandled in the past, somehow justice will prevail.
Since April 13th, the DA’s office has released a PUBLIC MEMO, which to me felt like a personal attack that was lacking in both accuracy and purpose, and conveniently omits certain facts without which it makes my prior statements appear false. I the victim should not have to address and correct the DA’s memo; such a memo is improper and should never have been released… nevertheless, the DA chose to draft a public memo, which I assume was published to help them with the largely negative public opinion against their handling of this case. This memo helped no one; it amounted to a public attack against the victim and, hence, requires a response to set the record straight on the following points:
Firstly, the DA’s office never advised me (other than minutes before the court hearing) that this memo was prepared let alone that it was being released not just to the court but to the public (over the internet); neither I or my counsel was contacted to validate any of the statements made in this memo; other than the alleged immigration concerns of Mr Gattani and the injuries from my abuse not amounting to a hospitalization. NONE of the issues were shared with me as reasons they have for providing great leniency in this matter (which is the second reported and charged incident of DV against Mr. Gattani… involving me!
The memo paints a picture that I controlled the family’s financials and removed the bulk of our money from Mr. Gattani’s control – which was never fact-checked for accuracy. The amounts of money quoted in the memo as to withdrawals made from joint bank accounts were inaccurate - again never confirmed and the memo conveniently fails to mention the fact that a huge amount of money, almost equal to what was withdrawn when we separated, was left in control of Mr. Gattani.
The memo also fails to mention the fact that the DV advocates provided by this very county advise DV victims to secure money before leaving the abuser and that this was done in my case against Abhishek Gattani in 2013, nor does the memo mention the fact that I had a legal right to the money that was removed from the community’s control and that there was nothing improper in what I did (to the contrary, that I acted as a DV victim is advised to act). The DA’s memo also fails to mention the fact that in last 11 months Mr. Gattani has paid no child support, spousal support or debt payments accrued by us collectively in the form of insurance, mortgage, childcare payments, etc. The DA’s memo, for whatever reason, attempts to report on - money being removed by wife… Why would the DA publish such details of our divorce case without a modicum of validation or proper purpose?It’s truly mind boggling… nearly as mind boggling as allowing a serial abuser with loads of recorded evidence against him to plea to an “accessory after the fact – AKA. Accomplice”. Again, the only person who committed such egregious abuse against me – and reported the second time - is Abhishek.How is he an accomplice?
I was especially disappointed when my medical records were discussed in the DA’s memo and those details shared publically – this is total invasion of my privacy and quite honestly a breach of the Marci’s law. This truly should be investigated outside the realm of this matter. According to the District Attorney’s office, I should have been gravely injured or killed for them to treat the abuse felony (not offering a light plea deal and allowing the perpetrator to schedule his days of incarceration according to his own schedule).
I was greatly disappointed that our child’s date of birth and pictures were also released by the DA as exhibits and made public. That was really low and unnecessary. I make a demand, here, that this sensitive and confidential information to be removed from all records and sealed for our child’s safety. Our child’s future should not be compromised by Google searches due to the abusive actions of her father and this negligence of the Office of the District Attorney. Our child is a victim of a crime, she is a minor and the District Attorney’s office violated her right to privacy.
Since April 13th I have worked closely with the DA’s office while they have worked to get the translations of the recorded evidence in this case. I was deeply disappointed to learn that other than a couple of the videos, no efforts were made previously to evaluate or understand the rest of the evidence which amounts to about 12-13 recordings. I may be wrong but it appears to me that the plea deal was offered without evaluating the entire body of evidence, as the entirety of the evidence was not even translated prior to now. This shows me that the crimes against my daughter and myself were not properly considered by the DA –or presented to the Judge- and that the District Attorney’s office did not make the effort to properly evaluate the evidence of the crimes (all while jumping to protect Abhishek’s rights as the perpetrator).
In the past year whenever, in discussions with the DA, I would bring up the previous conviction of Mr Gattani from 2013, I would be told it holds little importance while working on a conviction for this case. However I was baffled to see that almost the entire memo from the DA is based on facts pertaining to the previous case, and the efforts which I made to give a last chance to my abuser and husband, to change his ways and contribute in building a holistic family for our child - efforts which any psychologist or DV expert can explain as a common occurrence in DV cases.
The DA’s public memo makes me feel that the 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 - all from the office sworn to protect the victim’s rights and honor – in order to accomplish their objective. I wish the DA would have verified these so called “facts” contained in their memo and advised me on what was going to be publically released. By the DA publishing a memo filled with false and misleading statements (all with no possible objective other than a hope to sway public opinion), I feel my abuse continues by proxy of the court system.
Since April 13th, I have found out that the August 6th incident involving Abhishek Gattani, where he violated the court’s Restraining Order, has been dismissed. I was never informed on what grounds was the case dropped, neither was I told about the charges being dropped and that case being closed. I am truly puzzled as to why there is a pattern of leniency in this case especially considering the fact that the defendant, here, is returning to court again on the same or similar charges all within a period of 3 years. Why are we protecting the serial abuser and concerned about “immigration” – when even the alleged harm to his immigration status has not been confirmed by immigration authorities and attorneys. Have we really reached the point where the political agenda of our elected officials matters more than the physical and emotional damage that was done to a mother and child?
Where is the precedence for the DA publishing a public memo like this, which amounted to a direct attack on the victim who reported her abuse after going through it for 10 years? Is there a hidden agenda from the DA’s office which could explain: the leniency in the plea deal; not charging/convicting Mr. Gattani for violating the Restraining Order; and for drafting and releasing such an inflammatory and improper PUBLIC MEMO?!? I think, it is important for the court to consider these questions before making their decision on sentencing and truly evaluate the pattern of behavior not just from an abuser but also the office sworn to protect victims like me.
But I’m not going to make this entirely about the DA’s failures; there are many and they reach far deeper than just my case. Rather I’m here to inform the Court of what is at stake here with respect to the sentencing in the matter of People Vs Abhishek Gattani. Your honor, let this be on record that I believe - the only thing that stands between our child and me and further harm from Abhishek Gattani is the fear in him of the future consequences. The plea deal offered and accepted here amount to nothing but a slap on his wrist and ensure that he feels he can not just control his wife, child, parents and sister but also the AMERICAN JUDICIAL SYSTEM. Without correction and proper charges and sentencing, I have no doubt that Abhishek Gattani will continue to reoffend.
As mentioned earlier, I disapprove of the plea deal offered to and accepted by the defendant here. It was submitted and entered without review and consideration of all of the evidence (the recordings of the beatings of me in the presence of our daughter). Therefore, I urge the court to reconsider the plea deal and try the defendant Abhishek Gattani on Felony Battary DV charges.
However, after further review of the evidence in this case, if the court should decide to allow the plea to remain, I request the following:
That no credit be given to Abhishek Gattani for “time served” and that he serve his full minimal sentence of 30 days in county jail (CJ),
That he be taken into custody today and made to serve his sentence starting today, as there are no “loose-ends” for him to tie now that he has been removed from his position of the CEO of Cuberon and is not working (as was previously argued).
That his Felony charge NEVER be reduced to a misdemeanor and that it be entered as DV battery charge. I know that this request comes to you from me who has very little knowledge of the actual laws and penal codes, however I am the victim in this case and I know what I faced at the hands of this abuser – it was not offensive touching, it was multiple, multiple beatings and, likewise, this defendant is not an accessory after the fact – he is a serial abuser and a criminal to whom justice needs to be served. It is my true belief, as well as that of domestic violence counselors and experts whom I’ve met with, that I was weeks away from grievous injury or death.
AND to everyone who is present here in court or standing outside looking in, and to those who have contacted me through emails, facebook, linkedIn, calls, texts, letters offering me their support, and to all the Victims of Domestic Violence from around the country and the world - I stand here as a representative of all of you. Even if only through my pain and suffering, I am connected to you and I am grateful beyond words for all that you have given me and my daughter in the form of prayers, best wishes, solidarity, strength, respect and support.
This crime is bigger than this case and even though this case sheds light on the abuse, the abuser, and the system that should be fighting against it… there are way too many Neha’s waiting to be safe again. Since this case went public, I’ve heard from several women who found the courage to leave their abusive relationships. Please don’t judge victims of domestic violence, as did the District Attorney’s office and some others members of the public since the release of the District Attorney’s memo, for why they stayed this long or what faith and culture they come from or what defines them as a victim – the level of their injuries, hospital records, level of education, financial status or misconstrued data. Domestic Violence is truly terrorism and should be termed so. What I suffered at the hands of Abhishek Gattani, my husband for 10 years, the father of our child is “not” “just” violence – it is breach of trust, a character assassination, and above all terrorism of the most dangerous kind. Abhishek himself called his physical batteries on me terrorism… he told me to pretend he was ISIS and I had to protect our child from an ISIS terrorist by standing still and taking a beating from him. I pray whenever a victim of DV decides to rise up against their abuser, that they find the strength to follow it through and that they receive the support they need from their family, friends, community AND the judicial system of our country.
Finally to all Victims of DV, know this that you and only you walk in your shoes. Everyone may have advice and opinions on your matter but its you who decides for what’s best for your children and yourself – so don’t judge yourself with what everyone would say or think - FIGHT it and PREVAIL. No one – ABSOLUTELY no one deserves to suffer from this crime so don’t even for a second think that somehow you do. If you are in an abusive relationship, seek help and get out of it … No matter what level of support you have DO NOT take this lying down – ANYMORE. You don’t deserve to be abused and live your life in fear. Reach out, tell someone, take the first step towards getting away from your Abhishek (abuser). I AM WITH YOU and just know this that each one of us HAS the strength to stand up to the cowards who believe they are stronger then us because the animal in them is bigger then the human in them. FAITH and FEAR both require you to believe in something you can’t see. SO, trust me, you are the stronger one, you are the one with the FORCE.
Thank you everyone! God bless us all.