Justice delayed is justice denied: Abhishek Gattani beats wife Neha Rastogi for 10 years, gets a namesake punishment

Abhishek Gattani, the co-founder and CEO of Cuberon, a Silicon Valley startup
Abhishek Gattani, the co-founder and CEO of Cuberon, a Silicon Valley startup.

California/US, April 20: “I used to always think, like in some murders (in movies and all) they show that the murderer stabbed the victim with a knife 45 times; how would someone do that. Killing someone even once is so difficult to accomplish. Then how can that person, man stab the knife in the victim’s body so many times? I now imagine and can relate now to doing that to you. And I am not kidding. If you can’t, believe me, I can swear on anyone’s life.”

Those are the chilling words spoken by Abhishek Gattani, the co-founder and CEO of Cuberon, a Silicon Valley startup, to his wife, Neha Rastogi, a former engineer at Apple, according to an audio recording she made during a scary domestic violence incident. The nearly six-minute clip, which goes on to include physical violence, was evidence in a domestic violence case brought against Gattani and has been obtained The Daily Beast.

Click here to watch video footage and audio

At Apple, Neha Rastogi worked on everything from Siri to FaceTime to Maps, sometimes seated beside Steve Jobs himself. She is clearly brilliant and dedicated as well as passionate about the happy interface between technology and the public. Nobody could have foreseen that she would someday be compelled to employ an iPhone to record harrowing moments of what she says was a pattern of domestic abuse during virtually her entire 10-year marriage to a “man who is now CEO of a Silicon Valley startup.  The Daily Beast’s report is long, disturbing, and shocking.

Without the recordings, it would have been just another case of “he said, she said,” as her husband, Abhishek Gattani, faced his second felony domestic violence charge in Santa Clara Superior Court in fabled Palo Alto.

The exchange was recorded by Rastogi with an iPhone almost a year ago. She said the couple’s 2-year-old daughter was present for Gattani’s outburst, in which he can be heard beating her and warning that he “would like to see [her] murdered.”

In other portions of the recording, Gattani threatens Rastogi in an attempt to make her quit her job and tells her that the beatings are her punishment for her inability to remain calm. She later told police that her husband would also humiliate her by forcing her to “stand at the foot of the bed for hours” and “hit her if she did not comply.”

“It’s always my fault according to him,” said Rastogi. Even after she had a baby, she said, he would hit her while she was breastfeeding because he felt she “wasn’t doing it right.”

Despite the apparent mountain of evidence against Gattani, the lead prosecutor in the case, assistant district attorney Steve Fein, agreed to a plea deal that saw Gattani’s charges reduced from felony assault to felony accessory after the fact with a misdemeanour charge of “offensive touching.” Fein described the pleas as a fair outcome, noting that the charge would not put Gattani at risk of deportation back to his native India. Under the deal, Gattani would effectively serve 13 days in prison for what prosecutors argued amounted to years of domestic abuse.

Rastogi, however, says that Fein made the agreement without her consent, and alleges that the plea makes a mockery of her suffering. In a four-page victim impact statement she read aloud in court on Thursday — the day Gattani was scheduled to be sentenced — Rastogi questioned why the court had allowed her to speak at all.

“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,” Rastogi said. “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?”

The presiding judge in the case, Allison Marston Danner, was absent for the reading of the victim-impact statement because she had scheduled the sentencing for a day when she was out of court and on vacation — evidently, it would appear that Rastogi’s testimony was not expected to greatly affect the ruling. After listening to Rastogi’s statement, however, pro-tem judge Rodney Stafford decided it would be best to delay the sentencing until May 18, after Danner had returned.

Justice denied

Neha Rastogi’s husband Abhishek Gattani beat her for the ten years they were married. Finally, in desperation, Rastogi, recorded the beatings on her iPhone. Rastogi’s husband, Abhishek Gattani is the CEO of a Silicon Valley startup is also a wife-beater. But the description of the video Rastogi shot with her iPhone during one of his beatings should have been evidence that put him in jail for a long time. There are enough reasons to deport him to India.

The video footage seems to be uneventful as someone may think that somebody had mistakenly left their phone in a video-record mode in their pocket. Still, the audio is all the more disturbing. Particularly when you begin to hear the repeated thwacks in the presence of their then 2-year-old daughter. If you know what is to follow, Gattani’s intent seems clear in his tone and words even before the hitting starts. His voice is not raging, not even raised, but quietly ominous, controlled, and controlling.