Skip to main content
Publish date:

Charges: Twin Cities photographer raped 3 women over period of years

The 28-year-old has also been accused of false imprisonment and domestic assault.
Den Zell Gilliard

A Twin Cities photographer has been charged with raping three women over a period of several years, as well as the false imprisonment and blackmail of one of them.

A new complaint against Den Zell Gilliard, 28, of Minneapolis, charged him with two counts of 1st-degree and one count of 3rd-degree criminal sexual conduct, as well as the false imprisonment and domestic abuse of a woman between April 2016 and July 2017.

It comes after he was issued charges in two previous rape cases, which saw two women tell police they were raped between late 2018 and early 2019.

The victims said Gilliard took nude pictures of the women and used them as blackmail, and shared some on the internet.

The latest victim to come forward told police she'd met Gilliard in spring 2016 when he contacted her saying he was interested in photographing her for her website.

They eventually started a relationship, but the victim says Gilliard pressured her for sex "early on" despite her "verbal pleadings not to have sex."

"At one point, Defendant used a 35mm camera to take nude photographs of Victim without Victim’s consent and eventually used the photographs to 'intimidate and blackmail' Victim," the complaint says.

His behavior allegedly became increasingly aggressive over the course of 2016, at one point throwing a "heavy cocktail glass" at the victim, and became increasingly "chaotic and violent" towards her around Christmas, including destroying her personal property.

He allegedly subjected her to a violent rape in February 2017, with the victim telling police he raped her between 10-20 times over the 18-month period.

His alleged acts of physical violence include punching the victim, leaving her with a black eye, striking her with a leather belt, and using it to strangle her.

He's also accused of removing the door handles in his home so she couldn't leave without his say-so, and left her locked in the house when she broke up with him in June 2017.

On the day after he broke up with her, Gilliard "popped up" in the back seat of the victim's car as she drove to work, after hiding underneath a pile of clothes.

He assaulted on a few more occasions after this, before stopping in early July 2017.

If you're experiencing domestic violence, you can find a list of local resources and services here. You can also call the Minnesota Day One Crisis hotline at 1-866-223-1111.

Next Up

Dylan Bundy

Report: Twins agree to deal with Dylan Bundy

The Twins signed the right-hander with a lockout imminent.

Flickr - face masks covid pole - Ivan Radic

'Everyone should really be masking up' in public, Malcolm says

The health commissioner said residents have gotten "a little bit lax" with some protective measures.

Byron Buxton

Byron Buxton believes he's the best player in baseball

"Nobody [does] the things that I do. I know that."

unsplash medical marijuana

Edibles coming to Minnesota's medical marijuana program

MDH also announced it will not add anxiety as qualifying condition.

plow, snowplow, snow

Plowable snow possible this weekend in Minnesota

Up to half a foot of snow could fall within the heaviest band.

Best Buy - jjbers, Flickr

Police reveal new details about 'coordinated' Best Buy thefts

A large group stole thousands of dollars in merchandise from three Twin Cities Best Buy stores.

Seven Points exterior - 2

New tenant revealed for former Libertine spot in Uptown

The space will combine playful art offerings with a restaurant.

white Christmas

What are Minnesota's chances of a white Christmas this year?

The Twin Cities averages a white Christmas about 3 out of every 4 years.

ilhan omar press conference voicemail screengrab 11.30.21

'You will not live much longer b***': Rep. Omar shares threatening voicemail

Omar's office received the call hours after Rep. Boebert posted her video about the MN congresswoman.

Screen Shot 2021-12-01 at 11.24.09 AM

ESPN's 'Booger' makes fun of Wild fans' record cup snake

He's the same guy who thought the "Minneapolis Miracle" was bad for the Vikings.

brian ingram

Woodfired Cantina closes at Keg and Case in St. Paul

Restaurateur Brian Ingram is focusing on growing his other concepts.


Charges: Renaissance Festival director raped photographer

After the brutal assault, he allegedly threatened the victim's life.

Charges: Twin Cities McDonald's manager raped employee, 14

The 24-year-old Maple Grove manager has been charged with 5 crimes.

Charges: Man raped 2 women while out on bail for attempted rape

The attacks happened a month apart in south Minneapolis.

Charges: Photographer raped woman during hotel shoot

A 32-year-old man from Farmington is accused of sexual assault.

Gideon Erhabor

Ex-Bethel football player charged with raping 3 students

The 21-year-old is accused of the crimes dating back to fall 2018.

Charges: Valleyfair worker was raped outside dorm building

The accused attacker was serving probation for raping a 14-year-old girl.

President Pimpin Austin

Charges: Man assaulted, raped woman he'd just met inside her car

The 28-year-old from St. Paul has been charged with 1st-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Charges: Masked man who raped teen was her mom's boyfriend

The 26 year old has been charged with 1st-degree criminal sexual conduct.