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Mom of alleged victim testifies in Minaj brother’s abuse case

Jelani Maraj, brother of award-winning singer and rapper

Jelani Maraj, brother of award-winning singer and rapper Nicki Minaj, on pretrial hearing for allegedly raping a 12-year old on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The mother of the girl whom rapper Nicki Minaj’s brother is accused of sexually abusing testified in a Mineola court Wednesday that she never tried to extort millions from the celebrity musician by telling her she’d make the charges go away.

The 45-year-old Massapequa woman also denied telling her son, then 8, to make allegations against defendant Jelani Maraj, and then have her daughter go along with the tale.

Maraj, 38, faces up to life in prison if jurors convict him of predatory sexual assault on a child.

The witness said Wednesday that as she planned her wedding to Maraj in 2015, she watched her sixth-grade honor roll student daughter become “very distant and quiet” and want to spend more time by herself.

But she said her daughter never reported any abuse to her or told her not to marry Maraj.

“I would ask her what was wrong. She would just put her head down,” the witness told prosecutor Jared Rosenblatt in Nassau County Court.

The woman, whom Newsday is not naming to protect the identity of her daughter, married Maraj in August 2015. She spent hours testifying Wednesday in the case against him, saying she filed for divorce in 2016 following his December 2015 arrest.

The witness also testified Wednesday she spoke to a civil attorney in March 2016, but never filed a lawsuit against Maraj or Minaj concerning the sex abuse claims.

She also insisted she never contacted the rapper or Maraj’s mother in winter 2016 to say the charges would go away if she got millions.

Prosecutors claim Maraj turned the sixth-grade girl into his “indentured sexual object,” raping her repeatedly in a Baldwin home during eight months in 2015. But defense attorney David Schwartz says the charges are lies that the alleged victim’s mother fabricated in a “shakedown” to get $25 million from Maraj’s rich and famous sister.

The Garden City defense attorney also has alleged the woman beat her daughter, who was 11 when prosecutors say the sex abuse started, and her son, who was then 8, to get them to go along with her plot.

The witness did admit Wednesday to beating her children at times, including with a phone charger cord, a screwdriver, her hands, a shoe and a brush, when they “deserved it” and needed to be “disciplined.”

She also admitted to drinking alcohol excessively and frequently drinking and driving in 2015, and acknowledged a misdemeanor DWI conviction that followed a 2016 arrest.

The witness told jurors Maraj’s sister bought him the Baldwin house, contributed $30,000 toward the couple’s August 2015 wedding, footed their honeymoon bill and paid for the rental vehicle she drove to work.

Maraj’s arrest took place after prosecutors say the alleged victim broke her silence following her 8-year-old brother’s report to a child protection worker that he walked into a bedroom and saw the man’s “private parts” touching his sister.

Police found a pair of the girl’s pajama pants that a DNA expert testified Tuesday had genetic material that could contain semen and showed a 1 in 291 billion match to Maraj’s DNA. The defense has suggested the mother either planted the semen or the clothing became cross-contaminated with other laundry.

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