The 10-year-old boy who prosecutors say “unlocked a massive ugly secret” about his sister’s alleged sexual abuse testified Monday in a Mineola court at the trial of the accused — the brother of rap superstar Nicki Minaj.
The Nassau district attorney’s office has told jurors that Jelani Maraj, 38, of Baldwin, turned the victim — who was 11 when the alleged abuse started — into his “indentured sexual object.”
But Maraj’s lawyer has countered that the charges are lies that the mother of the victim fabricated in an attempt to extort $25 million from Maraj’s world-famous musician sister.
Maraj is facing up to life in prison if the Nassau jury convicts him of predatory sexual assault on a child, the top count against him.
Wearing a bow tie and suit, the alleged victim’s brother spoke softly from the witness stand Monday. The fifth-grader told jurors about walking into the bedroom of a Baldwin home one day when he was in third grade and seeing something that didn’t seem right to him.
On that day in 2015, he said he had been searching the house for his big sister because he had broken his pencil and believed she’d have another one for him to use.
But when he found her, he said he saw Maraj and the girl, both partially unclothed, with the man’s “private parts” touching his sister.
“It looked weird so I ran upstairs,” the boy said Monday.
The witness told jurors Maraj confronted him a short time later and asked him if he had seen anything. The boy said Maraj then slapped him across the face several times and told him he’d never see his mother again if he told anyone what he’d seen.
“His face was mad when he said it,” the witness added of Maraj, saying the encounter made him feel “sad.”
Prosecutor Emma Slane previously told jurors in her opening statement that the girl endured eight months of repeated rapes before her brother “unlocked a massive ugly secret” and revealed what he saw to a child protection worker after his sister sparked an investigation while speaking to a school counselor.
But defense attorney David Schwartz had told jurors that the alleged victim’s mother beat her daughter and her son “on a daily basis,” and the case was not about sex abuse but the use of force to brainwash a child to lie to authorities.
During the boy’s cross-examination, Schwartz tried to gently raise questions about the boy’s account.
Under questioning, the witness denied that his mother physically abused him, including while she was drunk.
But Schwartz got the boy to acknowledge that he may not have gotten a good view of Maraj with his older sister in the bedroom because the lights weren’t on in the room.
The case continues Tuesday.