Model 'held captive by rapist who removed doorknobs to stop her escaping'

A serial sex attacker raped three women up to 70 times, and removed internal doorknobs to stop one of his victims escaping his clutches, police say.

Photographer Den Zell Gilliard, 28, was charged over the alleged sex attacks on Wednesday, amid claims one of his victims was an aspiring model.

Gilliard, from Minneapolis, reportedly shot nude photos of that woman without her consent after she contacted him asking about portfolio snaps, then used them to ‘intimidate and blackmail her.’ She said he pressured her into having sex earlier in their relationship than she wanted to.

The photographer’s alleged sex attacks on the woman happened between April 2016 and July 2017.

He is accused of cajoling the woman into starting a relationship with him – and removing all interior doorknobs in their house so she could not go outside without his permission. The aspiring model told investigators Gilliard raped her up to 20 times, CBS Minnesota reported.

Gilliard’s other alleged victims are said to have been attacked between February 2018 and September 2019. He is accused of carrying out a total of 50-70 sex attacks on all three women. The photographer is also said to have threatened to kill his alleged victims and their families.

Police raided Gilliard’s home in February this year, and discovered it was missing some interior doorknobs – just as his first alleged victim had described. They also recovered electronics which have been forensically analyzed for further evidence.

Gilliard faces charges including first-degree criminal sexual misconduct, sexual assault, false imprisonment and sexual assault. He could spend up to 78 years behind bars if convicted on all counts.

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