Despite his super star sister, Nicki Minaj writing a letter to the judge to plead on his behalf; As his lawyer read a 2016 letter wrote in a bid to reduce his time behind bars, calling him the ‘most patient, gentle, genuine, giving selfless man I know’. Jelani Maraj has been sentenced to 25 years to life in a New York prison after he repeatedly raped his 11-year-old stepdaughter while her mother was at work.
Maraj, 41, was found guilty of ‘predatory sexual assault against a child and endangering the welfare of a child’ in 2017 and on Monday, Nassau County Supreme Court Judge, Robert McDonald, refused to give him a soft sentence.
You raped this child. You raped her over and over again,’ the judge added.
Maraj’s long sentence was for sexual assault but he was also sentenced to 364 days for the endangerment of a child.
Jelani Maraj had been held in custody, awaiting sentencing, since he was found guilty of the felony following a three-week trial.
Jelani Maraji Victim
The victim, now 14, testified in excruciating detail about sexual assaults that she said occurred as frequently as four times a week and sometimes twice a day.
She told the court she had become suicidal over the abuse.
‘I didn’t think I could make it through the day without an anxiety attack.’ she said. ‘I felt I had no voice,’ the victim, who is now his former stepdaughter, said on Monday.
The victim testified that the abuse started in April 2015 and continued until that November. He slapped her if she refused his advances.
‘I had went to him to go say “Good morning”. I had hugged him as usual and went to go lie next to him as I usually do. When I did that, he told me to go close the door,’ she told the court. ‘He told me to take off my pants. Then he told me to come under the covers with him and he started caressing me… We would have sex in his bedroom, in my bedroom, in the basement.’
Jelani Maraj has maintained innocence and was stoic in the Long Island court room Monday.
Minaj’s brother told the court: ‘I’d like to apologize for the pain that I caused. I had an excessive drinking problem.
His father had an alcohol and drugs problem and burned down the family’s Trinidad and Tobago home in 1987. It prompted Maraj’s mother to move to New York City and Jelani Maraj followed when he was 10.
Maraj added that he’s ‘just asking for mercy from the court’.
“’I thought Maraj would send me away from my mother”
His lawyer David Schwartz said he plans to appeal.
‘We will be appealing this excessive sentence,’ he told Pitchfork. ‘There was clear juror misconduct amongst other issues.’
Schwartz did not elaborate on the issues.
Neither Maraj nor his famous sister testified at the trial, even though during opening arguments defense lawyers said that the rapper was on the witness list.
Maraj threatened to have their mother sent away if they told anyone.
‘I thought he would send me away from my mother. … That’s what he said would actually happen. So I didn’t say anything,’ the victim testified.
She added they were told to ‘keep quiet or Jelani would hit us or we would get sent away because Jelani would deny it’.
But the boy reported it to a school administrator he saw Maraj touching his sister while they were partially clothed.
He was arrested December 2015.
The prosecutor said DNA evidence recovered from the girl’s pajama pants was linked to Maraj. It emerged Maraj would call the girl his ‘puppet’.