Nicki Minaj's Brother Jelani Maraj Jailed For 25 Years For Raping Young Stepdaughter
Warning: This article discusses sexual assault.
Rapper Nicki Minaj's brother has been sentenced for 25 years to life behind bars after he was found guilty of repeatedly raping his then 11-year-old stepdaughter while he was married to the child's mother.
Learning his fate in a Long Island courtroom on Monday, Jelani Maraj was found guilty of 'predatory sexual assault against a child and endangering the welfare of a child' in a 2017 trial which lasted just three weeks, after which he has since been held in custody awaiting sentencing.
Nassau County Supreme Court Judge Robert McDonald blasted the 41-year-old over the heinous crimes, saying that his “view is that you ruined this child”.
“You raped this child. You raped her over and over again,” McDonald said during sentencing.
Despite the victim's brother witnessing one of the assaults and subsequently notifying the authorities, Maraj has maintained that he was innocent of the charges.
“I’d like to apologise for the pain that I caused. I had an excessive drinking problem,” he said, adding he was “just asking for mercy from the court.”
Prior to sentencing, Maraj's victim, who is now 14, told the court that the repeated abuse led her to become suicidal.
“I didn’t think I could make it through the day without an anxiety attack.“ she said. “I felt I had no voice.”
During the trial, prosecutors alleged the assault against the young girl would occur around four times a week, with DNA belonging to Maraj found on the victim's pajama pants, and medical examinations determining there was evidence of penetration.
After Maraj was initially jailed in 2017, Nicki, real name Onika Maraj-Petty, paid her brother’s $100,000 bond and went to visit him behind bars in November that year -- though, according to TMZ, she claimed it was only to support her mother.
While she didn't appear in court to support her sibling, his defence team's lawyer, David Schwartz, read a letter penned by Nicki in 2016 that pleaded with the court to give her brother a lighter sentence.
In the letter, the "Chun-Li" singer referred to Maraj as the “most patient, gentle, genuine, giving selfless man I know.”
Nicki has previously referenced her older brother in her songs, including on 2014’s “All Things Go,” where she raps: “I know Jelani will always love me, and I’ll always love him. And I’m just his little sister, not Nicki Minaj when I’m around him.”
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, dial 000. If you need help and advice, call 1800Respect on 1800 737 732, or Lifeline on 13 11 14. A range of domestic and family violence resources based around the country can be found here.