MINEOLA, New York - The brother of superstar rapper Nicki Minaj has been found guilty in his Long Island child sex assault case.
Jelani Maraj, 38, faces up to life in prison after he was convicted of predatory sexual assault against a child and endangering welfare of a child for having repeated sexual contact with an 11-year-old girl at his home in Baldwin.
"Justice demanded that this defendant be held accountable for these heinous acts, and we are thankful to the jury for their careful deliberation," District Attorney Madeline Singas said. "We hope that today's verdict will help the family in the healing process and that it will close this terrible chapter in their lives."
Maraj's lawyers said during a nearly one-month trial that rape allegations were concocted by the girl's mother as part of a scheme to get Nicki Minaj to pay the family $25 million in hush money, but in closing arguments Monday, Nassau County Assistant District Attorney Emma Slane called that claim "absolute absurdity."
The girl, 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, mostly when Maraj was home alone with the girl.
The prosecutor said DNA evidence recovered from the girl's pajama pants was linked to Maraj. The girl's younger brother also testified at the trial that he witnessed one assault.
The prosecutor told the jurors it would be up to them to determine whether the testimony of the two children was credible.
"Why tell this lie?" Slane asked jurors. "This isn't a Broadway show. It's real life with real-life consequences."
Defense attorney David Schwartz said in his summation that a lawyer for the girl's mother contacted Maraj's lawyer saying, "if she was paid $25 million, these charges could just go away."
"It's about money and it's about revenge," Schwartz said. "This is an old-fashioned shakedown."
The girl's mother denied that the accusations were made up.
James R. Ray III, a civil attorney who briefly represented the mother, testified that he did demand $25 million from Jelani Maraj after he had already been arrested to settle a potential civil lawsuit, but he said the girl's mother was unaware of the demand.
"She was never involved as far as what we did," he testified. The woman later fired him as her attorney.
Neither Maraj nor his sister testified at the trial.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)
Report a typo to the ABC13 staff