Two years after being convicted of the sexual assault of a child in the state of New York, Nicki Minaj’s older brother Jelani Maraj has just received a significant court-ordered prison sentence.
In 2015, a 14-year-old girl testified in court against Maraj, alleging that the 40-year-old had been abusing her since the age of 11. Her younger brother provided a witness testimony corroborating her statement; he told the court that Maraj had threatened to have him removed from his family if he ever spoke up about the abuse.
Maraj’s defence argued that their client was the target of a $25 million (£19m) extortion scheme by the victim’s family, alleging that his familial relationship with Minaj had made him an easy target. Carol Maraj, the mother of Jelani and Nicki, alleged that the victim’s mother had warned her about the case, saying, “It’s gonna take lots of money to get out of this one."
The defence later alleged that the jury had engaged in misconduct during the trial. An affidavit provided to State Supreme Court Justice Robert McDonald by Maraj's attorney Davi Schwartz claimed that several jurors had voiced their opinion on Maraj's case, going against the judge's instructions not to discuss the case outside of deliberations. After a thorough investigation into the allegation, Judge McDonald ruled that there was no proof that the jury's behaviour created a risk significant enough to create prejudice against Maraj.
The trial continued, with the jury ultimately deciding in favour of the plaintiff after hearing the case for over a month. The jury found Maraj guilty of predatory sexual assault on a child younger than 13 and endangering the welfare of a child. As a result of their decision, Maraj has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison and will spend a minimum of 25 years behind bars.
Minaj has yet to speak publicly about her brother's guilty verdict, although she did quietly support him during the trial; when Maraj was first arrested, the rapper put up two of her homes as collateral to post his $100,000 (£77k) bond.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the Rape Crisis on 0808 802 9999.