Jelani Maraj, the brother of rapper Nicki Minaj, was convicted of predatory sexual assault by the Nassau County on Thursday, according to a report from AP. Maraj, 38, was charged with raping an 11-year-old girl at his Long Island residence on multiple occasions. The guilty verdict carries with it a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. Maraj's lawyer, David Schwartz, intends to appeal the verdict.
Maraj maintains the rape accusations were invented by the victim's mother in an attempt to go after Nicki Minaj's family fortune. He claims the mother demanded $25 million in hush money. The mother denied the accusation. Civil attorney James R. Ray III briefly represented the mother and testified that he did demand $25 million from Maraj after he was arrested. But, he added, that the mother was unaware of that. She later fired Ray as her attorney.
The girl, who is now 14, testified that Maraj raped and molested her up to four times a week, sometimes multiple times a day, when she and Maraj were home alone. Prosecutors said they found Maraj's DNA on the victim's pajamas. A relative also testified to witnessing an assault.
Maraj himself did not take the stand, nor did Nicki Minaj, whose birth name is Onika Tanya Maraj. Minaj is four years younger than her brother and the two grew up with their mom, Carol Maraj, and another sibling in Queens, NY. Their father, Robert Maraj, was reportedly an abusive alcoholic.
Jelani Maraj was first charged with child rape in December 2015. That accusation came a few months after Minaj attended his wedding to Jacqueline Robinson in Baldwin, New York, in August 2015. Minaj posted a photo of the wedding on Instagram, writing in the caption she "would cross the ocean" for her Maraj.
Minaj has not yet commented on her brother's conviction.