Jelani Maraj, brother of Nicki Minaj, convicted of child sexual assault and endangerment
As Americans continue grappling with rampant sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual abuse of vulnerable populations by people with situational dominance, another reminder to protect children from adult monsters came late last week.
A jury convicted 38-year-old Jelani Maraj of endangering the welfare of a child and predatory sexual assault on a child younger than 13 years old, his former stepdaughter. The conviction followed a trial that lasted more than one month. Maraj, rapper Nicki Minaj’s brother, faces between 25 years to life imprisonment at his sentencing next month.
Minaj, who vocally champions women’s empowerment and intersectional issues, struck a nerve of fury with fans and commentators when the announcement came that she would be her brother’s star witness in the trial. Ultimately, she did not testify.
“Justice demanded that this defendant be held accountable for these heinous acts and we are thankful to the jury for their careful deliberation,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement to PEOPLE. “We hope [the] verdict will help the family in the healing process and that it will close this terrible chapter in their lives.”
The child victim, now 14, testified that Maraj called her “his puppet.” She said he told her that she had “no say” in the sexual violence, which as a child incapable of consent and at a predator’s mercy she absolutely did not have a say in the violence. Prosecutors argued Maraj began abusing the girl when she was 11 years old and raped her numerous times while her mother was at work.
The girl’s brother testified that he witnessed Maraj’s “private parts” touch his sister after walking in on the man and his sister partially clothed. The boy said Maraj told him to remain silent or he would be removed from his mother’s custody.
May the girl and her family members receive the support they need to begin a long journey toward healing from this abuse.