The verdict is in — rapper Nicki Minaj‘s older brother, Jelani Maraj, has been found guilty of rape. In a Long Island courtroom on Thursday, the 38-year-old was found guilty of predatory sexual assault against a child and endangering the welfare of a child in a trial that took nearly three weeks. He now faces 25 years to life in prison and will be sentenced on Dec. 14. Nassau County D.A. Madeline Singas told TMZ, “We hope that today’s verdict will help the family in the healing process.”
Despite claims that Nicki was supposed to take the stand as part of her brother’s defense team, she never testified. At the time, an attorney for Jelani told jurors at Nassau County Court on Thursday that the rape charges against his client were all part of an elaborate plot to extort money from Nicki, according to a separate report from TMZ.
In December 2015, Jelani was arrested and accused of raping his 11-year-old stepdaughter, soon after he married her mother, Jacqueline Robinson. During the opening arguments on Thursday, Jelani’s attorney, David Schwartz, told jurors that Jacqueline planned to marry the accused so she could try and get money out of his famous sister. He said she allegedly told Nicki, “I can make the charges go away for $25 million.”
Prosecutors gave disturbing details of the alleged sexual abuse during their opening arguments on Thursday, saying Jelani raped the sixth grader as often as four times a week for eight months. Assistant District Attorney, Emma Slane, also told the panel of jurors that the girl’s brother, who was eight years old at the time, witnessed the abuse.
That brother has since taken the stand, Page Six reports. According to the report, he told jurors that he saw his sister with her pants “around her ankles” and Jelani’s underwear close to his knees. When asked what happened next, the young boy told the jurors, “I thought it wasn’t right. It looked weird to me, so I ran upstairs.” Shortly thereafter, Jelani confronted his young stepson and slapped him across the cheek, the boy testified.
Even before his testimony, the victim’s brother has played a crucial role in the case. According to the Daily Mail, the boy told child services about what he saw and child services then alerted police, who found semen on the groin area of the girl’s pajama pants. The defense, however, claims that the victim’s mother planted his DNA on the pajamas herself.
“Jackie became obsessed with Nicki Minaj — getting her hands on her money,” David said. “Why would (Jacqueline) lie and force her children to lie? I can give you 25 million reasons why.”