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Plaintiff in Dan Ribacoff Assault Lawsuit Encourages Abuse Survivors (Contains Graphic Content)

Rosana Clarkson is a child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault survivor who fiercely advocates for other trauma victims.

Susanne Gold-Smith with Her Husband David

Susanne Gold-Smith with Her Husband David

Sexual assault survivor Susanne Gold-Smith, of Long Island, New York, joined me in a poignant and intriguing interview about how a horrific experience with a private investigation company in Rockville Center, NY ironically saved her marriage with her husband, David Smith, and prompted her into sharing her story to help save other potential victims.

Mrs. Gold-Smith is the plaintiff in a lawsuit she commenced in 2019 against several New York-based private investigators, who allegedly sexually assaulted and raped her, and the company they worked for, International Investigative Group (IIG), who she alleges negligently supervised these P.I.s and facilitated the assaults.

"I want to see the individuals responsible punished for what they've done, so they can't victimize others or utilize their licenses or badges to facilitate future assaults," Gold-Smith said.

Although Gold-Smith's lawsuit is still pending and has yet to reach the trial phase, one of the men accused of raping her, former NYPD Detective and Ribacoff P.I., Yanti Michael Greene, aka Michael Moretti Ford Cruz, aka Mike Cruz, was recently convicted of criminal contempt for attempting to cover up and alter video evidence of Gold-Smith's alleged rape.

Celebrity polygraph operator and owner of International Investigative Group, Daniel Ribacoff, a regular on The Steve Wilkos Show, with his wife Barbara and their two children, Lance and Lisa Ribacoff, are all defendants in Gold-Smith's lawsuit.

The Ribacoffs are accused of financial fraud and deliberately facilitating and condoning actions by their P.I.s, which led to Gold-Smith's rapes and sexual assaults.

According to Gold-Smith, several defendants and former P.I.s who surveilled her have admitted to the allegations against them in sworn testimony, personally apologizing to her for their egregious behavior, and turning over incriminating evidence against the Ribacoffs and IIG.

"My husband and I were going through a divorce at the time," Gold-Smith explains, "and his attorney suggested using Dan Ribacoff's firm, IIG, who was supplying private investigative services to other Long Island matrimonial firms. Neither my husband nor his attorney had any idea what was really going on behind the scenes."

Dan Ribacoff, author of I Spy: How to Be Your Own Private Investigator, has appeared on several television programs including Impractical Jokers and has most recently appeared as the polygraph expert on NBC Universal's The Steve Wilkos Show.

Despite overwhelming evidence validating Gold-Smith's allegations against certain investigators and the Ribacoffs, for aiding and abetting the rapes and sexual assaults she suffered at the hands of their P.I.s, IIG remains in business today.

According to Gold-Smith, court documents and text messages allegedly sent by Dan Ribacoff, Lance Ribacoff, and Lisa Ribacoff, confirm IIG principals gave Greene/Cruz authorization to proceed with a plan to "shut down" a harassment lawsuit Gold-Smith filed against IIG in 2018. Weeks later, Greene allegedly raped Gold-Smith inside the vehicle he used to surveil her and produced a video recording of the rape, which depicted Gold-Smith in an incapacitated state.

During the interview, Gold-Smith expressed her grief and sense of betrayal that Ms. Ribacoff, a woman, willfully participated in the alleged scheme to defraud her husband and facilitate the sexual assaults against her.

Numerous text messages submitted with court documents appear to confirm that the Ribacoffs even rewarded the same P.I.s, who allegedly committed assaults against Gold-Smith, with cash bonuses.

After filing her lawsuit, Gold-Smith claims Greene, aka Cruz, fled New York; his whereabouts are currently unknown, and the Ribacoffs are in the process of selling their NY assets and shifting them to Florida, a state with laws that insulate debtors from civil judgments.

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Despite the serious allegations her family is facing, Lisa Ribacoff remains a director of the National Polygraph Association and sits on committees of the Nassau County Bar Association, which her father, Dan Ribacoff, is also a member of.

Lisa Ribacoff was recently invited to speak at the CrimeCon convention in Las Vegas, a trade show, which, ironically, promotes justice and advocacy for victims of crimes.

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Susanne's Ordeal at the Hands of Trusted Private Investigators

Contrary to public claims of professionalism and experience, Gold-Smith describes her alleged IIG perpetrators as not only unscrupulous in their attempts to surveil her, but comically incompetent.

"I spotted them right away," Gold-Smith says. "They would sit inside their cars watching Netflix and when they tried to take photos and videos of me, I would make them think I was turning right, then quickly turn left...so they couldn't catch me. I had no prior experience evading private investigators."

Gold-Smith said that her husband frequently warned Ribacoff that he would dump the firm should his P.I.'s continue losing her. With that warning in mind, as alleged, the Ribacoffs encouraged their P.I.'s to make contact with Gold-Smith and "befriend" her so they could control her movements and avoid losing her.

Incredibly, even after the P.I.'s "befriended" Gold-Smith and had her under control, Ribacoff increased the number of P.I.'s trailing her to as much as 7 per shift, then fraudulently billed her husband for the increased manpower.

Gold-Smith claims the P.I.'s assigned to her case were becoming increasingly gratuitous and more intrusive almost daily.

She was afraid the P.I.'s would grossly exaggerate and distort the context of the video they took of her; reporting, for example, that "she was having a good time drinking vodka" when she was really just drinking water.

"I knew the whole time they were on me," Gold-Smith explained, "even if all I was doing was leaving my house and throwing out the garbage. I wouldn't say these were very good private investigators; but they certainly were potentially harmful to me and my divorce case."

Gold-Smith believes the P.I.s had the power to falsely accuse her of being intoxicated and could easily report false observations to IIG, which could make their way into court documents.

"To avoid losing me, they would tailgate me, swerving left, right, and in front of me while I was driving; it was very scary, especially since I witnessed some of them drinking on the job."

After Gold-Smith purportedly nearly collided head-on with one of Ribacoff's P.I.'s and was at her breaking point, another P.I., Greene, approached her with a proposition.

"[Greene] served me with paperwork and said, in sum and substance, that if I cooperated with him and the other P.I.s, the intensity of the surveillance would be reduced."

Gold-Smith felt she had no choice but to succumb to the P.I.'s conditions; in exchange for her cooperation, which included driving slower and allowing the P.I.'s to catch up to her, Gold-Smith believed she could avoid the aggressive tailgating and near collisions she previously experienced.

Gold-Smith continued, "Over time, Ribacoff's P.I.s would talk to my friends and family, becoming friendlier and friendlier. I felt as long as I reciprocated and kept my mouth shut, the P.I.s wouldn't intentionally damage my divorce or custody case—the dynamics between us had definitely changed."

Even with this new "quid pro quo" in place, Gold-Smith still felt threatened by the P.I.s, since most were former NYPD cops, who carried concealed weapons and were clearly in control of her life at the time. They were certainly capable of exploiting her vulnerabilities and portraying her in a negative light to the courts if she didn't play ball with them.

Gold-Smith recently learned that several of Ribacoff's investigators weren't even licensed or received any training from IIG, according to sworn testimony they provided.

"People pay them top dollar," Gold-Smith says. "They go on their web site and read that they use only trained professionals; how absurd, considering what happened to me."

In November 2021, New York's Department of State concluded an investigation and confirmed the Ribacoffs subcontracted with Yanti Greene, also known as Mike Cruz, a P.I. who was unlicensed at the time he allegedly raped Gold-Smith.

Since she had no memory of the assault, Gold-Smith believes she was drugged by Greene before he allegedly raped her. She learned nearly two years later, when the original video was discovered on Greene's iPhone, that she had, in fact, been allegedly raped by Greene.

"I was shocked when I saw the video and his gun while he raped me. The same gun he showed me just prior to the rape. Even though the assault occurred in 2018, watching this horrible video makes me feel like I'm being raped by him all over again."

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Victim-Shaming After Coming Forward

Following her allegations, Gold-Smith says she has experienced an enormous amount of victim-shaming by the Ribacoffs and the investigators in court documents, which has only exacerbated her trauma.

"The reminders are triggers for me," Gold-Smith explained. "The victim-shaming, and the fact that I have to see these perpetrators from time to time is very difficult."

Gold-Smith recounts IIG's counsel accusing her of being "aggressive" with the P.I.s. Ironically, Greene, who is 6 foot three inches tall, nearly 300 pounds and carries a firearm, made similar claims as his defense.

"The way their attorney is handling this case is so unprofessional," Mrs. Gold-Smith said. "The horrible things they write and say about me are disgusting and shameful. They know what happened here, the text messages don't lie and prove they were fully aware of what their P.I.'s were doing to me, while they kept my husband and his attorney in the dark."

Gold-Smith's husband also sued IIG and the Ribacoffs for financial fraud, alleging they covered up the assaults and interactions between the P.I.'s and Gold-Smith, and charged him for bogus hours and a tainted investigation.

She went on to say, "Greene made a complete doofus of himself during his recent contempt trial, lying and perjuring himself on the stand in front of the entire courtroom. IIG's attorney was there, he saw how Greene tried to cover up my rape—yet the victim-shaming continues during court conferences and in their papers."

Gold-Smith agrees that nothing justifies abusing and victimizing anyone, especially by licensed professionals. "These people, who are licensed by the State of New York and employ individuals who carry weapons and badges, clearly knew what was going on and had a moral and ethical obligation to end the investigation. It's obvious the money was just too good to give up."

Based on her experience, Gold-Smith and I agree that distancing yourself from an abuser would seem the obvious choice; but because every circumstance is different, sometimes this is not always the case. "In the beginning, they groom you, then gain your trust," states Gold-Smith. "The difference is they had leverage over me, they could hurt me in various ways if I didn't cooperate. What was I to do, what would anyone do in my situation?"

Despite Gold-Smith requesting financial compensation for her suffering, she says it was never about the money. "These men should be in jail for what they've done, plain and simple," Gold-Smith says. "This case is not about money, it's about justice. Maybe my story will inspire others to come forward, maybe it's a catalyst for change and for tougher regulation of the private investigation industry."

How Susanne's Tragedy Brought Her and David Closer

Although Gold-Smith survived a tragic experience that would drive most individuals to the brink, it has exemplified her exceptional strength and courage.

The reunification with her husband, following her ordeal, has only brought them closer and intensified the love the couple always had for each other.

"This really is a love story," Gold-Smith says. "David and I are fighting for justice. He's fighting for me and my honor. Together I know we will prevail."

Gold-Smith is amazed that such an awful experience like this, that would tear most families apart, has only strengthened her marriage and reaffirmed the powerful bond she has with her husband. "I never expected so many positives would come out of something so tragic," Gold-Smith explained.

"I told David what happened, he was totally shocked but believed me when nobody else would. We talked about everything that happened, and it worked out for both of us. I see his warrior side and the teamwork we have together. We appreciate life now and never sweat the small stuff anymore; things have never been better between us."

Safety Planning and Help for Survivors

The National Sexual Assault website RAINN reports that perpetrators of sexual violence often use tactics, such as guilt or intimidation, to pressure potential victims into doing something they don't want to do.

The RAINN site urges that if you are a victim, remind yourself that the other person's behavior is not your fault, it is their fault for choosing to treat you improperly.

RAINN advises that you trust your instincts and to never feel obligated to do anything you don't want to do. It also helps to have a code word for family and friends that means you are uncomfortable or need help. In this way you convey your concern without alarming the individual who is making you uncomfortable.

The RAINN website also states that it is okay to lie if you are concerned that being straightforward with an aggressive person will only anger or upset them. Lying and making excuses are only wrong in the sense that doing so is with intent to harm. If you are making something up (e.g., needing to take care of something important or to use the restroom) to protect your safety or someone else's, this is an entirely different principle; I once lied to a man who attempted to assault me that I had a very painful and incurable venereal disease, and he backed off.

RAINN also recommends that you plan an escape route. Locate windows, doors and other possible exits.

"If you have to find a way out of a situation where someone is pressuring you," RAINN says, "or if something happens that you didn't consent to, it is not your fault. Take care of yourself, and know you're not alone."

In cases in which a sexual assault has occurred, RAINN encourages victims to seek medical attention to treat possible injuries, prevent pregnancy, or test for sexually transmitted diseases (STD's).

"Once you're in a safe place," RAINN says, "you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) to be connected with a sexual assault service provider. They will direct you to the appropriate local health facility that can care for survivors of sexual assault. You can also search for a local service provider near you at centers.rainn.org. They can also send an advocate to help walk you through the process of receiving medical care during this tough time. If you can, it's best to avoid showering or bathing before arrival. Bring a change of clothing with you if you are able."

For those who are suffering from domestic violence, call 800-799-7233 or visit https://www.thehotline.org/.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

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