Following weeks of graphic testimony, Nicki Minaj’s brother Jelani Maraj has been convicted of raping his former stepdaughter.
Jurors issued the verdict on Thursday in Long Island court.
Jelani Maraj, 38, of Baldwin, now faces up to life in prison following his conviction in Nassau County Court on a felony charge of predatory sexual assault on a child. The Mineola jury also convicted him of endangering the welfare of a child.
Maraj showed no emotion when the verdict was read, and State Supreme Court Justice Robert McDonald ordered him held without bail in Nassau County jail in East Meadow. Maraj had been free on bond.
He was handcuffed and taken from the courtroom after the verdict.
Maraj was accused of raping the victim on multiple occasions from when she was 11 years old. Both the girl, now 14, and her 10-year-old brother testified during the trial. Nicki Minaj did not testify, despite early reports that claimed she would.
In her testimony, the victim said Maraj warned that she’d be punished if she didn’t keep the abuse a secret. She also told jurors she was scared she’d be separated from her mother if she told:
...[T]he girl testified Maraj would call her “his puppet” and tell her she had “no say” in what he did to her. She told jurors Maraj treated her as if she was his own daughter before the abuse then began. But she said once it did, Maraj told her she “wanted it to happen,” and slapped her in the face if she refused his advances.
The victim’s brother testified that he walked into a bedroom and saw Maraj raping his sister. The mother told jurors her daughter became “very distant and quiet” during the span of the abuse. In addition, a forensic expert called by prosecutors confirmed that a stain on the girl’s pajama pants matched Maraj’s DNA profile.
The defense meanwhile argued that the victim’s family tried to extort Carol Maraj (Jelani and Nicki Minaj’s mother) and accused the girl’s mother of beating her children to force them to fake their accounts of sexual assault.
Maraj will be sentenced on December 14.