due process; dead defendants; victim impact


When women accuse powerful men of sexual assault, there is increasing public pressure to resolve any doubts in the accusers’ favor before the criminal process is over, if not from the outset. Private individuals and institutions often do so without worrying about due process, but it is different for the trial court, where the presumption of innocence is supposed to apply. This is especially true where public shaming and the accompanying reputational consequences already constitute a kind of punishment. Although they may be sympathetic to accusers, especially those whose cause is championed by a strong and popular social movement, courts should not succumb to pressure to undermine the presumption of innocence.