Neha Rastogi's husband Abhishek Gattani beat her for the ten years they were married. Finally, in desperation, Rastogi, a former Apple developer, recorded the beatings on her iPhone.
Rastogi's husband, Abhishek Gattani is the CEO of a Silicon Valley startup. He is also a wife-beater.
The Daily Beast's report is long, disturbing, and shocking. 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. And that conviction should have been enough to deport him.
Visually, this footage is so uneventful you might think that somebody had mistakenly left their phone in video-record mode in their pocket.
But that makes the audio all the more disturbing, most 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.
As the video starts, the two have been discussing a website that had been garnering numerous clicks but now was getting only a few. Rastogi seems to have suggested that the problem is a software bug. Gattani presses her as a teacher might to define a bug in computer terms. But what he really seems to be seeking to teach her is submission.
There is more of the transcript in the Daily Beast article. They also have one of the videos she recorded.
Teach her, he did. By hitting her over, and over, and over again. But she thought she had a weapon -- her recordings. She went to a lawyer, who convinced her to go to the police, and when he was questioned by police he lied to their faces, denying he ever laid a hand on her. They arrested him on the spot.
The case was set to go to court, in the very same place where Brock Turner was given a six-month sentence for raping a classmate at Stanford.
Then the prosecution and the defense struck a deal, without asking the victim or considering what it might mean to her future and her psyche.
But to 36-year-old Rastogi’s dismay, the top charge against Abhishek was reduced from felony assault to felony accessory after the fact, with an accompanying misdemeanor of “offensive touching.”
The prosecutor in the case, Assistant District Attorney Steve Fein, described the plea deal to The Daily Beast as a fair outcome, noting that accessory after the fact is also a felony, though not a violent one that would place Gattani at risk of being deported back to his native India. Fein indicated that his boss, Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen, seeks to avoid such deportations.
Rastogi was not consulted before they agreed to the plea deal. No one bothered to actually ask her if she, the victim, was comfortable with a lesser charge so her batterer could remain in the country.
This is where I'm going to remind everyone that as recently as last month, Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, III instructed his ICE agents to round up women who were heading for battered women's shelters to escape their abusers so they could be deported.
Just since Trump took office, 5,441 people with no criminal record at all have been deported, according to a report by the Washington Post.
But in Silicon Valley, a judge and a prosecutor decided to reduce a wife-beater's conviction so he wouldn't be deported. There is something seriously wrong with this picture.
Rastogi wrote a 4-page victim statement for the court, which she wanted to read aloud to the judge who had agreed to the plea deal. Oddly, the judge went on vacation for the day when Rastogi was scheduled.
"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," she wrote. :With all due respect to the system... I stand FOOLED, disgraced and ridiculed as a victim."
She had some words for the court, too.
"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," she wrote.
"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."
There is a small silver lining. She read that statement to the judge who was substituting during the original judge's vacation, and he was moved enough by it that he delayed further proceedings until the first judge returns, hears her statement, and will then pass sentence. But it is a thin silver lining, since the terms of the deal are locked in already, before the victim ever had a chance to speak.
So again, I ask. Where is Jefferson Beauregard Sessions and his deportation force? Where is he to intervene and see that this man is sent far, far away from here so that his battered wife and daughter might have a small measure of peace?
This man will kill Rastogi. I've known too many like him. He will kill her or he will put her in the hospital with serious injuries. He is rage-driven, and believes himself to be entitled merely by virtue of his Silicon Valley power base and his over-exalted manhood.
I haven't seen a more fitting candidate for deportation. I would also argue that the prosecutor and judge in this case need to sit back and re-evaluate their priorities.
For an administration hungry to deport violent criminals, they seem to have dropped the ball on this one. Someone damn well better pick it up and run with it.