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After John's wife is arrested, he knows that he has to act to save her. He brings in Mary Warren to tell the truth about Abby and the other girls. Mary quickly loses her confidence when Abby turns against her. In an effort to show what kind of girl Abby is and that she had motive to accuse Elizabeth, John confesses to lechery and sacrifices his good name. He says that he has "known" her. The magistrates bring out Elizabeth to back up John's accusation, but it backfires when Elizabeth lies. John had said that Elizabeth cannot tell a lie and he was confident that Elizabeth would tell the truth no matter what. She lies thinking that she's saving John's reputation.
Proctor, in his anger and desperation, grabs Abby and calls her a whore. He then confesses his sins to the court and admits to his affair with Abby and tells the court that his wife Elizabeth had set Abby out for being a harlot.
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