In November 2017, Jelani Maraj was found guilty of raping his stepdaughter when she was just 11 years old. In a bone-chilling testimony, the girl, who remained unidentified, detailed how Maraj started sexually assaulting her in their Long Island home in April 2015 and continued his crimes for months. The victim, who is the daughter of Jelani’s now ex-wife Jacqueline Robinson, said Maraj threatened to take her away from her mother should she say anything.

The girl also said Maraj made her feel like the assault was her fault. “He had mentioned I was brushing myself on him and that I wanted it to happen,” she testified, according to Page Six. Additionally, Maraj’s stepdaughter testified that her younger brother, then 8, walked in during one of the assaults and that Maraj also threatened him. The boy also described what he witnessed in court. In her testimony, Robinson said she only learned about the assault when social services contacted them to set up a meeting. “He was yelling at her, asking her ‘what did you say?'” Robinson said, according to Bossip.

Social workers had a rape kit done on the victim. Later, DNA evidence showed a stain in one of the girl’s clothes matched Maraj’s semen. A New York judge sentenced Maraj to 25 years to life in January 2020. “We will be appealing this excessive sentence,” Maraj’s lawyer told Pitchfork in a statement.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN’s National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

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