US CEO Abhishek Gattani pleads No Contest to Abusing His wife Neha Gattani
Silicon Valley CEO Abhishek Gattani Pleads ‘No Contest’ to Abusing His Wife—and Is Offered a Deal for Less Than 30 Days in Jail
A deal was struck, and the judge had left for vacation, before the victim had her say in the same Santa Clara courthouse where Brock Turner was given six months for sexual assault.
According to the Daily Beast, Cuberon CEO Abhishek Gattani was recorded threatening and audibly smacking his wife, former Apple executive Neha Rastogi, nine times in front of their daughter.
Abhishek Gattani’s LinkedIn profile says he created Polaris— “the search engine for the second largest eCommerce retailer in the world”—and was the principal product director of engineering for Kosmix and then led engineering and product teams for a major online retailer. Rastogi was a quality engineer and then a product engineer and manager for Flip Video and then Cisco and then Apple, staying with the development of applications from start to finish. She could see beauty in a piece of code and magnificence in all the layers of inspiration and effort that go into an application.
In their working lives, Gattani had become co-founder and CEO of Cuberon, a startup that describes itself as a “customer behavior analytics company
Neha Rastogi told The Daily Beast that she had met Gattani only a few times before their arranged marriage in 2009. She was a modern woman of Indian birth and American citizenship who still treasured tradition.
She began to learn in the first months of their marriage that her husband had trouble controlling his anger, when they drove 20 miles to see a movie only to discover it was sold out.
“He said, ‘Why didn’t I call the theater before coming?’” she would remember.
He kept on after they returned home.
“He just felt I wasn’t sorry enough,” she recalled. “He slapped me. I kind of sat down on the floor. He kicked me in my belly. I was lying there on the floor… I couldn’t even scream. I didn’t believe it happened… I had never known or even seen anybody who ever went through this.”
She added, “I feel that’s not OK [but] calling the cops just never ever occurred to me at all.”
The next morning, he acted as if everything was only normal.
“He just woke up, had breakfast,” she would report.
She hoped for an apology. None came.
“Why would you do that?” she would remember asking him after two or three days.
“That’s what happens,” he replied by her account.
“It’s always my fault according to him,” she later said.
The abuse continued and at times it seemed as if he never called her by her name.
“It was bitch or slut or whore,” she recalled.
She would later tell the Sunnyvale Police that her husband began subjecting her to a demeaning ritual under threat of force.
“She talked about him wanting to humiliate [her] by making her stand at the foot of the bed for hours,” the resulting police report would say. “She cited this as in the tradition of school humiliation. He would threaten to come hit her if she did not comply.”
She would further tell The Daily Beast that Gattani became angry when she had difficulty breastfeeding.
“He was saying that I wasn’t doing it right, that I wasn’t concentrating,” she recalled. “It got him really mad and irritated. He hit me when I was breastfeeding the baby.”
She did not end the marriage, she said, in part because of her upbringing in India, where nobody she or her family knew was divorced and where it would have brought shame on all involved.
“I didn’t grow up around even one couple that was divorced,” she told The Daily Beast. “I don’t want a broken family for my daughter.”
She reasoned that her husband must be deeply unhappy and she urged him to seek something that might give him at least a modicum of joy and make him feel more fulfilled.
“Flying lessons, golf lessons, dance classes, whatever you want,” she recalled. “I tried to introduce him to so many different things, hoping he will find one thing he likes.”
Then came the day in November of 2013 when the postal worker saw Gattani punching her outside their home and called 911. A radio car responded and a cop separated Gattani and Rastogi. Two more radio cars arrived.
“My first reaction was, ‘Oh my God, I’m in trouble,’” she would recall. “I’m standing in the middle of three or four really big, tall guys questioning me… The question in my head was, ‘What did I do?’ It didn’t occur to me that somebody called the cops because he was hitting me.”
She only came to understand that her husband was the one in trouble when the police arrested him and took him away.
“My first response was he was going to kill me,” she would remember.
He later called her from jail, saying he loved her, sounding crushed. She could have just left him there, but he was still the father of their child and he was still her husband and she was still someone whose first inclinations are to forgive and sympathize.
“My internal voice was speaking to me, ‘I cannot leave him in this,’” she would recall. “‘I cannot do this to him. He has done this to me over and over, but I cannot do this to him.’”
She got in the car and headed for the jail.
“I was the one who bailed him out. I was the one who picked him up.”
She would remember that as she drove him from home, he asked, “Am I a bad person, Neha?” and began to open the door of the moving car and threatening to jump out.
“That night, he was so broken,” she would report.
She would remember him saying, “I’m not a bad person. I do this for the betterment of our family. I wanted to give you a better future. That’s why I push you so hard.”
As soon as they got home, he went in to bathe, as if he could wash away the jailhouse taint.
“I don’t even want to see these clothes,” he told her.
By her account, she retained a defense attorney on her husband’s behalf and attended hearings when he did not want to attend them over the long seven months that the case proceeded through the criminal justice system.
She would recall him being fearful that his colleagues would learn that he had been arrested.
She urged the district attorney’s office to lower the charge from felony assault.
“We got it reduced as [low as] it could have been,” she would remember.
He was allowed to plead to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to a year of domestic violence/anger management classes, but not a minute behind bars. She would tell The Daily Beast that he was anything but grateful.
At Apple, Neha Rastogi worked on everything from Siri to FaceTime to Maps, sometimes seated beside Steve Jobs himself.
Using iPhone Neha Rastogi recorded all the domestic abuse which she suffered.
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.
Instead, it was “he said, she-and-her-iPhone said.”
The video that Rastogi made on May 17, 2016, of 5 minutes and 58 seconds of her life with Abhishek Gattani 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.
So what happens in this video recording , text of the video
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
We are talking about a bug, what is a bug... NEHA... Rastogi?” he asks on the video. “You are a QA [quality assurance] person, right? This is amazing. I am having fun today actually. Let’s talk about what-- is-- a-- bug?”
“Let’s say you—” she begins.
“No, no, no,” he says. “When did I say that’s a bug? We talked about bugs right? Is it getting very difficult for you to focus? You really do need help. You need me to take another step and come to you. You need help?”
“Let’s—you know what, here’s the thing, it’s all in your hand,”
No, no, no,” he says. “When did I say that’s a bug? We talked about bugs right? Is it getting very difficult for you to focus? You really do need help. You need me to take another step and come to you. You need help?”
He appears to have his own idea of help and of making her focus.
“Let’s—you know what, here’s the thing, it’s all in your hand,” he continues.
He appears to be telling her that she is to blame for whatever happens to her.
“You don’t want to get beaten up?” he asks. “Then control yourself.”
He appears also to be telling her to rein in the very fear and hurt he is instilling in her; she better not cry or he will give her all the more reason to do so.
“If you didn’t want that police report and incarceration you should have gotten yourself and your senses back to track,” he goes on.
“You don’t want to get beaten up?” he asks. “Then control yourself.”
“What is a bug?” he asks. “Come on, bitch! What is a bug?”
“A bug is when-- a-- you know when the-- when something doesn’t behave as per intended.” she replies.
He asks how the glitch they have been discussing could be described as a bug. She seeks to answer. He remains unsatisfied.
“No, no, no. I asked you how is that a bug?” he demands.
She again tries to answer.
“No, no you bitch,” he says. “I have a very very specific question, you please, you keep answering complicated questions OK.”
He accuses her of accusing him of being critical. She seems to remain conciliatory, telling him that she is trying to answer honestly and asking his advice.
“So-- I a-- a-- a-- I am just asking what do you think is your understanding that a product manager would go ahead and do at this point,” she says.
“Abhishek, please don’t hit me more,” she says. “I-- I am just trying to be more critical over here. I am just trying to question this-- Please don’t do this, please don’t do this. Please don’t do this. Please don’t do this. Please don’t do this.”
She is crying now, but a skeptic inclined to give the “he” the benefit of the doubt in a “he said, she said” might note that she knows she is recording the exchange and might be playing things up.
He then poses a hypothetical: “OK, here is a link that seems to be landing to a page, which takes you to this content. Would you…”
But then comes the first thwak.
“… keep that link, or would you remove it? Tell me…”
Then comes a second thwak.
“… Keep that link or remove it?”
Rastogi continues crying.
“Remove it,” she says.
“So did you get your answer of what you would do?” he asks.
A third thwack can be heard.
“Your users come to the app, they login, right?” he asks.
“Yeah, no this is a bug I will act on,” she says.
She seems ready to say whatever he wants her to say. Two more thwacks come as he describes a scenario where the user is diverted from a desired page to a generic or empty page.
“What would you do?” he asks.
“I would fix it,” she says.
“You will fix it Na’?” he asks. “Is that a bug? Is it actionable?”
Then comes a seventh thwack.
“Is that something you will fix?” he demands. “Is that something you will operate on?
By her account, he is again pulling her hair with both hands, causing her to cry out in apparent pain. There is an eighth thwack. He asks why she asked him about the glitch in the first place.
“You love being critical right?” he asks. “Because right now it is all about being critical? Yeah?”
There is a ninth thwak. She sobs.
“Yeah, you are right,” she says.
Rastogi had taken the video and other evidence she had gathered with her iPhone to the police. Her 38-year-old husband was arrested and ended up pleading no contest. The device she helped refine seemed to have become an instrument of justice.
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. Fein noted that the plea calls for a six-month jail term, though only 30 days of actual incarceration, with the balance served in the weekend-work program, doing manual labor for eight-hour shifts but otherwise at liberty. Fein maintained that Rastogi offered no objection when he provided her with the details of the deal.
“She seemed fine with it,” Fein said.
Rastogi insists she was never even close to fine with it and became less so having learned that Gattani would likely serve not even half of the 30 days in jail and could have the felony expunged from his record if he successfully completed three years of probation and the other terms of the plea.
Indeed, the overall deal is so lenient as to call into question how seriously the criminal justice system took a case where the physical injury was not as catastrophic as that suffered by some victims, but the long-term effect as told by Rastogi amounts to an excruciatingly intimate domestic terror.
Rastogi—who is presently separated and in the process of a divorce from Gattani—made her feelings dramatically clear in a four-page victim impact statement that she read aloud in court on Thursday at what was supposed to have been the sentencing. She declared herself doubly victimized by her husband and by the criminal justice system. She wondered aloud how someone arrested for a crime could be charged with being accessory after the fact without being charged with the crime itself, even though he was the only possible perpetrator. She also made it known that she is offended by the charge of offensive touching.
“‘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,” she said in her statement. “‘Offensive touching!!!’ Please explain me is it offensive touching when a 8 month pregnant woman 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…?”
She went on, “Offensive touching—I call it terrorism…”
She added, “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.”
The judge who presided over the case, Allison Marston Danner, had apparently decided that the victim-impact statement would have so little impact on the outcome that she had scheduled the sentencing for a day when she was on vacation.
But the pro-tem judge who filled in for her, Rodney Stafford, was clearly moved by Rastogi’s plea for actual justice—an appeal that was adamant, but also as controlled and logical as computer code, ringing with the strength of a woman who refused to be subjugated, of a loving mom determined to protect her child. He put off the sentencing until May 18, after Danner returns.
“That was certainly a powerful statement and I’ve listened to it very carefully,” Stafford said from the bench on Thursday.
He noted that he was only sitting in while Danner was away.
“So, until today, about 15 minutes ago, I knew nothing about the case,” he went on. “So, I don’t know how the negotiations were arrived at. I assume that the matter was negotiated in good faith by both the prosecution and the defense.”
He continued, “However, it gives me pause and gives me some concern that Judge Danner [who] was basically part of the matter of settling this matter may not have known some of the things you have brought to the attention of this court.”
Stafford asked Rastogi if she had an extra copy of her statement. She said that she did.
“What you’ve just read, is that a verbatim reading of it?” he asked.
“Yes, mostly yes,” Rastogi said.
“Ma’am, like I say I just, I just here sort of walked into this and I really don’t know much about it,” Stafford told her. “I thought there was a disposition that had been settled on and I think your thoughts ought to be at least made, that Judge Danner ought to at least be made aware of it and I’ll make sure that she gets a copy of the statement that you’ve just read.”
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 effect 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.
Read the full story and hear the shocking audio at The Daily Beast.
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Tags – CEO Abhishek Gattani Wife Neha Gattani Domestic Violence Case Facts Video Audio
19 April 2017
US CEO Abhishek Gattani pleads No Contest to Abusing His wife Neha Gattani