I am looking for a word or phrase to describe hastily accusing someone else of a crime you did not commit in order to escape being accused yourself. Another EL&U question (What to call someone who falsely accuses you?) drew suggestions that amount to synonyms for liar, but I am looking for something different.
- I want to describe the action, not the person doing the accusation.
- I am looking for a word or phrase that gives the impression that the person only made the accusation because he/she was already threatened or was under pressure and had no choice but to blame someone else to save himself/herself from being punished. He/she did not put blame on the other person through evil intentions but out of a desire for self-preservation. He/she might have been thinking that if no one else got caught, he/she would most likely be blamed, and so moved preemptively to redirect all the suspicion toward this third person. The crime involved is also heavier than libel or slander, and conviction might result in a death sentence. The situation is similar to the Salem Witch Trials, where the suspects started naming other people as witches in hopes of avoiding being lynched.
Tituba accused Sarah Goode without evidence to save herself from execution.