Judge Sentences Jelani Maraj To 25 Years To Life, Nicki Minaj Called Him Her “Hero”
A judge Monday sentenced Nicki Minaj‘s oldest brother to 25 years to life in state prison for raping his stepdaughter.
Nassau County court Judge Robert McDonald called Jelani Maraj an abuser with a misguided moral compass as he sentenced him for sexually abusing his 11-year-old victim over eight months in 2015.
“My view is that you groomed this child,“ Judge McDonald told Maraj as he sat with his head down in a rumpled navy blue suit, his hands cuffed behind his back. “You made her think this was OK. You’re her stepfather! Those children called you daddy!”
Maraj, who has been battling a host of health problems, will serve his sentence in protective custody and Judge McDonald asked that he be given access to medical care while he serves his time. Maraj was also ordered not to contact the victim or her family.
Maraj’s famous sister Nicki submitted a character letter on her sibling’s behalf, calling her brother her “hero” who saved their mother from domestic violence.
He is “the most patient, gentle, genuine, giving selfless man I know,” Minaj said in the 2016 letter, which Maraj’s lawyer David Schwartz read out in court. “He’s been my hero my entire life.”
Maraj himself pleaded for mercy, although he did not outright admit that he had raped the girl.
“I’d like to apologize for the pain I’ve caused,” Maraj said in a soft voice to the courtroom, where his mother, Carol, and members of their church sat on one side and his victim and her family sat on the other.
“I had an excessive drinking problem. I put myself and the children in a dangerous position. I’m sorry. I’m just asking for mercy. I would ask for a second chance to be productive in society.”
However, in impact statements, the victim’s family asked for a harsh sentence and said Maraj’s abuse had devastated the entire family and left his tween victim and her brother with a lifetime of psychological and emotional scars.
The victim – who BOSSIP is not naming – said she has struggled with suicidal thoughts following the abuse, but is now on track to graduate high school and wants to advocate for other sex abuse survivors.
“Today, I am able to say I can use my voice for me and others who are the survivors of rape,” she said, dabbing tears from her eyes.
Mom Jacqueline Robinson said although she had forgiven her ex-spouse, she said a long sentence will show her children that “their words have power.”
“No length of time will give back my children the innocence they lost,” Robinson said. The victim “deserves to live her life, knowing that he’ll never be able to come near her again.”
Maraj’s defense had asked for a sentence of 10 years, arguing that he’d turned his life around after battling alcoholism and was now beset by a host of health problems, including acute gastritis, hypertension, gout and diverticulitis.
But Judge McDonald questioned whether Marsh had afforded the same mercy to his stepdaughter.
“You ask for mercy, the mercy you gave (the victim)! She was 11 years old, and you raped that child!”
After the judge handed down the sentence, Maraj kept his head down as court officers let him back to the cells.
Cops arrested Maraj, 41, back in 2015 after his victim came forward and accused him of sexually abusing her almost daily over a period of eight months – with the last rape occurring one day before his arrest. Maraj has denied the allegations, alleging his ex-wife concocted the story to extort millions from his famous sister. The Nassau District Attorney’s Office initially offered him a plea deal of 10 years, but he rejected the deal and took his case to trial. In 2017, a jury found him guilty of predatory sexual assault against a child.
Outside court, Maraj’s mom Carol said they planned to appeal the verdict.
“We believe in God for the appeal,” she said. “Success and favor. He’s going to win in the appeal.”