“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.”
These are not lines out of a Hollywood movie. These are the cold, passive-aggressive words that Abhishek Gattani, the co-founder and CEO of Cuberon (a Silicon Valley startup), spoke to his wife, Neha Rastogi, a former engineer at Apple. What could have been a he-said, she-said case, just turned into a serious case with Neha’s presentation of audio evidence that she recorded using her phone. The 6-minute clip, recorded in the presence of their 2 year old kid, has audio proof for mental as well as physical violence against Dattani. The audio was acquired and published by The Daily Beast.
The audio is enough proof to not just revoke Dattani’s work license and put him behind bars for a long enough period but also deport him back to India. What happened instead is a real mockery of justice. In spite of the presence of every single proof to convict Dattani, assistant district attorney Steve Fein, who is appearing on behalf of Neha, agreed to a plea deal that puts Gattani behind the bars for less than 2 weeks! Yes, 13 days of prison for what was arguably “years of physical and mental abuse” that Neha faced.
Neha claims that attorney Fein did not consult her personally before going forward with the agreement for the plea deal. She read her statement loud and clear in court last week on the same day Gattani should have ideally been sentenced to a prolonged period in jail.
In her own words,
“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 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?”
After the dramatic events in the court, the stand-in judge decided it best to put the sentencing on hold till May 18 when the presiding judge would be back.