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Twin Cities man wanted by police after violating probation in rape case

Authorities say Den Zell James Gilliard, 30, is on the run after violating probation in a rape case he pleaded guilty to in 2021.
Credit: U. J. Alexander - stock.adobe.com

MINNEAPOLIS — A Twin Cities man who evaded prison after pleading guilty to multiple sexual assault charges in 2021 is now on the run, according to law enforcement.

According to court documents, an arrest warrant was filed in December for 30-year-old Den Zell James Gilliard, whose guilty plea earned him a stayed eight-year prison sentence and five years of probation. 

Documents say Gilliard has violated several terms of his probation, including declining to submit to random chemical testing, completing sex offender programming and enrolling in domestic abuse counseling.

Gilliard, a once-popular local photographer, pleaded guilty in May 2021 to two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct to avoid prison time, according to court filings. Two other charges filed against him were dismissed.

Credit: Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

The original complaint laid out an allegedly violent and controlling relationship that began when he reportedly contacted the victim and offered to take pictures for her website. The victim told police that Gilliard forcibly raped her between 10 and 20 times between April of 2016 and July of 2017 when she refused to have sex with him. She said rapes sometimes involved punching and strangling her. 

The victim also says Gilliard took nude pictures of her without her consent and used them to "intimidate and blackmail her." 

Gilliard allegedly removed all the interior doorknobs in his home so the victim could not leave without his approval. The victim told investigators Gilliard threatened to kill both her and her family.

The other charges against Gilliard involved two other women who said Gilliard also sexually assaulted and imprisoned them.

Court filings say that because the court has probable cause to believe Gilliard violated the terms of his probation, his stayed sentence has been revoked until he can appear before a judge for a final determination.

The arrest warrant, filed in Hennepin County, states Gilliard is to be detained and held without bail.

RELATED: Photographer charged with sexually assaulting 3 women

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