Illinois psychiatrist Mani Batchu gets 10 years prison in Massachusetts child rape case
January 12, 2012
In a high-stakes game of “he said-she said,” a Hampshire (Massachusetts) Superior Court judge gave more credence to the female victim Monday, sentencing a Chicago psychiatrist to 10 years in prison for child rape.
Mani Batchu, 32, a resident psychiatrist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, admitted to having sex with the 15-year-old girl on two occasions in 2009, once at the Mount Pollux Conservation Area in Amherst and once in a dressing room at the Hadley Shopping Plaza. In seeking the 1-year sentence, prosecutor Carrie M. Russell called Batchu a “sophisticated predator” who took advantage of both the girl’s age and her learning disability.
Batchu is already serving a 30-year federal sentence for crossing state lines to commit the crimes. In addition to flying from Chicago to meet the girl in Massachusetts, he also followed her to Florida on a family vacation and sent her hundreds of email and texts, according to prosecutors.
Batchu had previously pleaded guilty to the charges against him before Judge Bertha D. Josephson, but Josephson recused herself before sentencing him, saying that she had had inadvertent contact with a family member connected to the case. Judge Mar-Lou Rup heard the same plea and the same evidence from Russell on Monday. Rup also heard a reprisal by the girl’s mother of a victim’s statement written by her daughter in which she told Batchu, “You got me to do things a 15-year-old should never even know about.”
The mother also repeated her own statement, which included a long recounting of the relationship and how it affected the family. She told the judge that Batchu used his training to brainwash her child and that he originally posed as an 18-year-old South Hadley resident named “Mark Taylor,” whose father was dying of prostate cancer. The mother told Rup she was offended by defense assertions at the preceding plea that family problems contributed to her daughter’s actions.
Defense lawyer Francis T. O’Brien took the unusual step of addressing the mother in court as he refuted her account. According to O’Brien, the victim had previously posed as an 18-year-old online and had relationships with other older men.
“I’ve never seen this opportunity used as a forum for blaming everything that ever happened to your dysfunctional family on this man,” O’Brien told the woman before Rup instructed him to direct his comments to the court.
O’Brien, who was seeking a five-year sentence, contended that there was “an utter lack of any sense of accountability” by the family and said, “It’s time to look in the mirror.” He also reiterated that there were cultural differences involved in the case and that it was “the most extreme example of prosecutorial over-kill I have ever seen.”
Batchu was born in India. According to O’Brien, his mother, who was present in court, was married to his father at age 15.
Rup opted for the higher sentence, also adopting Russell's recommendation that it be followed by 10 years probation. If Batchu is released from prison while still under probation, he will be barred from having any unsupervised contact with children under the age of 16.
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