Jelani Maraj, 41, the older brother of Nicki Minaj, has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for repeatedly raping his stepdaughter, who was just 11 years old when the abuse began, according to the Nassau County DA. Maraj’s verdict comes two years after being convicted on charges of predatory sexual assault and acting in a manner injurious to a child for the abuse that began in 2015. The Nassau County District Attorney told HollywoodLife in a statement: “Judge Robert McDonald sentenced Jelani Maraj to 25 years to life in prison this morning. The Nassau County District Attorney’s office sought the maximum sentences of 25 years to life in prison.
“The defendant was convicted at trial of both counts submitted to the jury, Predatory Sexual Assault Against a Child in violation of PL 130.96 (A-II felony) and Endangering the Welfare of a Child in violation of PL 260.10 (A misd),” the DA’s statement continued. “Judge McDonald sentence Maraj to 25 years to life on the first count and 364 days on the second count. These sentences run concurrently. The trial opened on 10/19/17. Summed on 11/6/17. Jury deliberated for about two days. Verdict came in on 11/9/17. First post-trial motion was filed by the defense on 1/16/18. Judge’s decision on the motion and hearing was entered on 12/5/19.”
1. He was convicted in 2017 of sexually abusing his former stepdaughter, when she was just a child. The brave 13-year-old, who remains unnamed, took the stand and detailed what Maraj did to her for years before getting caught. While still married to her mother, Maraj, according to the child, repeatedly raped and sodomized her starting in April 2015. “It was a Saturday morning,” she said during her devastating testimony. “I had went to him to go say ‘Good morning.’ I had hugged him as usual. I went to go lie next to him as I usually do. When I did that, he told me to go close the door. He told me to take off my pants. Then he told me to come under the covers with him and he started caressing me… We would have sex in his bedroom, in my bedroom, in the basement.”
2. He threatened the victim and her brother if they told anyone about the abuse. Maraj told the children that he would take them from their mother have them “sent away,” according to the victim’s testimony. Her then-eight-year-old brother walked in on Maraj abusing her, she said at the trial, and heartbreakingly had to tell him to stay quiet.
3. Nicki did not testify at her brother’s trial, despite reports that she would. Though Maraj’s defense team said the “Anaconda” rapper would testify on her brother’s behalf at his trial in Long Island, New York, that never happened. During opening arguments at Maraj’s trial in October 2017, his attorney, David Schwartz told jurors that Maraj’s then wife allegedly forced the victim and her young brother, her children, to lie about the sexual abuse to extort the rapper for $25 million. Nicki did visit her brother in prison once, to accompany their mother, Carol.
4. He grew up in the Caribbean. Nicki and her brother were born in Trinidad and Tobago, but their father had an addiction to drugs and alcohol, as well as a violent temper. So when he burned their house down in 1987, the siblings went to live with their grandmother in Saint James in their home country, while their mother headed to New York City. The siblings moved to Queens to live with their mother when Maraj was 10.
5. He will be appealing his conviction. Maraj’s lawyer, David Shwartz, told Pitchfork in a statement, that, “We will be appealing this excessive sentence. There was clear juror misconduct amongst other issues.” He did not elaborate on the misconduct and “issues.”