By WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Twin Cities photographer has been charged with sexually assaulting three women.

On Tuesday, 28-year old Den Zell James Gilliard of Minneapolis was charged with two counts of first degree criminal sexual misconduct, along with third degree sexual misconduct, false imprisonment, and domestic assault.

The criminal complaint alleges Gilliard repeatedly sexually and physically assaulted a woman between April of 2016 and July of 2017. They met when she contacted Gilliard because she wanted him to take her picture. Afterwards, the two entered into a relationship.

She said Gilliard pressured her into having sex early into the relationship, and at one point even used a 35mm camera to take nude photographs of her without her consent. Later on, he used these pictures to “intimidate and blackmail” her. Gilliard also removed the interior doorknobs in the house so that she could not leave without his approval.

During the course of their relationship, she reported Gilliard forcibly raped her between 10 and 20 times.

If convicted of the charges, Gilliard could face up to 78 years in prison.

This is not the first time Gilliard has been accused of such behavior. In the past six months, he has been charged with sexually assaulting two other women, and faces two additional cases of first-degree criminal sexual misconduct, two counts of third degree sexual misconduct, two counts of false imprisonment, and two counts of domestic assault.

The sexual assaults for the two women overlap slightly; one reported being assaulted between late 2018 and early 2019, while the other said she had been raped between February 2018 and September 2019.

In total, Gilliard is accused of sexually assaulting all three of the women between 50 and 70 times. He also is would threaten to kill the victims and sometimes their families.

On Feb. 14, 2020, officers executed a search warrant at Gilliard’s house. During the search, they found several interior doorknobs had been removed. They also recovered some of his electronics.

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