Wife Decries Silicon Valley Tech Exec’s Domestic-Violence Plea Deal

By Tracey Kaplan
Mercury News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Supporters of Neha Rastogi see her as the latest victim of a justice system that trivializes violence against women, particularly in wealthy Palo Alto.

PALO ALTO

Wealth, privilege and justice for women have once again collided at a courthouse in the heart of Silicon Valley, where the wife of a tech executive accused of beating her is furious at prosecutors for handing him what she considers a lenient plea deal.

Like “Emily Doe,” whose speech decrying Stanford student athlete Brock Turner’s light sentence for sexual assault became a viral rallying cry against “rape culture,” Neha Rastogi’s statement about her husband’s plea deal has drawn sympathy. Supporters see her as the latest victim of a justice system that trivializes violence against women, particularly in wealthy Palo Alto.

“Her experience was completely dismissed by our justice system,” said Esther Peralez-Dieckmann, executive director of Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence.

But others say there is often a sharp difference between the message advocates may want to send and the outcome the justice system can produce in a given case.

Teresa Garvey, a retired domestic violence prosecutor at AEquitas, a Washington-based organization that offers training to prosecutors who handle cases of sexual and domestic violence, said “victims don’t always understand the strictures and rules of evidence.”
“The victim’s wishes are just one of many factors,” Garvey said.

The case poses a political risk for District Attorney Jeff Rosen, already facing criticism from some women’s advocates for opposing the recall of Judge Aaron Persky over Turner’s sentence, even though he disagreed with the judge’s decision and helped pass a state law mandating prison for that type of sexual assault.

The case against Rastogi’s husband returns to court in June, down the hall from the courtroom where Persky gave Turner six months in jail. And prosecutors plan to explain why the deal — Abhishek Gattani would serve 15 days in jail, spend five months doing weekend work and avoid possible deportation — is appropriate for his second conviction related to allegations of domestic violence.

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