The brother of rapper Nicki Minaj was convicted Thursday of raping his 11-year-old stepdaughter on multiple occasions in their New York home.
The New York Daily News reported that a Nassau County jury deliberated for two days to find Jelani Maraj, 38, guilty of predatory sexual assault against a child and endangering the welfare of a child. The accuser, now 14, testified she was 11 when Maraj anally raped her, smacked her, and forced her to not tell anyone about the ordeal.
TMZ noted that Nicki Minaj didn’t testify at her brother’s trial despite the defense claiming she would. Maraj also never took the stand in his own defense.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, the victim’s 10-year-old brother also testified during the three-week trial. He said he caught Miraj raping his sister in their basement—and recalled seeing her pants “around her ankles” and his “underwear close to his knees.”
“I thought it wasn’t right. It looked weird to me, so I ran upstairs,” he said of the 2015 incident.
The 10-year-old claimed that Maraj later approached him and asked him if he saw what happened. When he said “yes,” Maraj repeatedly slapped him in the face and threatened that he would never see his mother again if he told, the boy testified.
The assaults reportedly began in April 2015, about four months before Maraj married the children’s mother. Maraj was arrested in December 2015 on multiple child rape charges.
Defense attorneys unsuccessfully argued that the accusations were part of a $25 million extortion plot constructed by the children’s mother. At one point, the defense accused the mother of forcing her kids to lie about the rape.
Assistant District Attorney Emma Slane dismissed those claims as “absolute absurdity.” In court, expert witnesses testified that semen found on the girl’s pajamas was a one-in-291 billion match with Maraj, according to the Daily News.
Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas told TMZ on Thursday, “We hope that today’s verdict will help the family in the healing process.”
Maraj faces 25 years to life in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for December 14.
[Featured Image: Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP; Nassau County Police Department]