>doesn't sue the old woman for defamation before the whole mess starts
>is surprised when the whole town turns on him
>doesn't sue the old woman for defamation
No one does that in Scandinavia. In Finland (population 5.4 million) have only about 150 such cases per year. The rates are similar in Denmark.
by not calling out the old hag on her bullshit from the very beginning, even threatening to escalate
this would have shown determination and the will to defend himself from such an evil accusation
this way it would have deterred her from reporting this incident to the children's parents