Silicon Valley executive Abhishek Gattani, sentenced for the domestic abuse of his wife, Neha Rastogi, began serving jail time on June 16 in Milpitas, California. He was scheduled to be released on June 26.
The Cuberon CEO, 38, was given a one-month jail term — which was reduced to 15 days for good behavior — in a plea deal that drew community protest. Santa Clara County Judge Allison M. Danner had listened to audio recordings Rastogi made of her husband’s abusive behavior but said she found only one that met the criteria for criminal behavior.
At the sentencing, however, she imposed extra requirements for him: He will be cleaning and picking up highway trash for two and a half months, four days a week. He is also forbidden to drink alcohol and has been ordered to stay away from Rastogi for the next 10 years and carry an electronic monitoring device for six months. The device will test his blood-alcohol content via facial recognition and also employ a breath-alcohol test.
“I am glad she [Danner] was able to rise above all the pressure,” said Gattani’s attorney, Michael Paez.
He said his client was “very relieved to have this [case] behind him.” He said the judge’s decision was “stressful” and Gattani is looking forward to “picking up the pieces of his life and moving forward.”
He called Danner’s actions “a good decision,” adding that he believed Rastogi used the media to garner extra attention for what he said were unsupported claims.
“My client took responsibility for his mistake the one that he made and that he accepted the responsibility but that doesn’t mean he is accepting all other crazy accusation that was not supported by any evidence,” he said.
He said the couple’s case for separation is now pending in Family Court.
Rastogi’s attorney, Michael Pascoe, said the sentence was disappointing. Rastogi, a principal product manager of mobile products at Walmart Lab, not pleased with the plea deal decision and for the second time since the case began, read an emotional two-page statement in the courtroom. “Domestic violence is truly terrorism and should be termed such,” the statement said. She recounted being abused for the past 10 years.
Meanwhile, Papiha Nandy, radio and TV host and community activist, who protested in front of the court on June 15, told India Abroad, “We [of the] Indian-American community don’t want to talk about it.
“I urge women to be zero-tolerant towards domestic violence,” said Nandy.
“Victims should not fear about their visa issue or job or shelter, support system are there, but they have to stop these abusers,” she said.
Stanford University law professor and sociologist, Michele Landis Dauber, showed up at court to support Rastogi. She said that in general domestic violence is not taken seriously. “It’s a very serious case and her perpetrator is a privileged and CEO and upper-class person. And the women are often treated really poorly in the court system,” she said. “However, it’s rare for batters to spend any time in jail.”
She said people need to send a message to elected officials that “if you are not taking domestic violence seriously whether it’s a sexual assault or domestic abuse voters are going to hold you accountable and replace you with someone who will take it seriously.” Dauber said domestic violence is treated less seriously than drug crime, shoplifting, graffiti and even drunk driving.
“We have laws and what he did was against the law. We have enough laws but we need public officials to enforce it in a more appropriate way. He could have served years in jail for his crime, but he got just 13 days,” said Dauber.
Vinita Gupta, the founder and chairman of Digital Link Corp., and a member of the board of trustees at Maitri, a Bay Area nonprofit which supports domestic violence victims in the South Asian community, said in a statement to India Abroad, “The outcome has had the desired effect. Although she did not get everything that she wanted. But social shame is the best punishment. He has no family, no job, and friends and associates are shunning him. It also prevents others from behaving in a predatory way.
“I think that the judge not ordering him to be deported is a big plus, as moving the case to India could have meant deferred hearing for not just months but years. He might be seen picking up trash on the roadside, which could not do him any good either. As much as I wish he got a longer jail sentence, I respect the justice system here.”