The Ryan plagiarism scandal: an historian to the rescue

Someone with a good grasp of the material noticed that Professor Vanessa Ryan's Thinking Without Thinking in the Victorian Novel contained copied passages (see the table here)

The perp says she did a mea culpa,
Ryan said she took immediate action, notifying her publisher, her department chair, other colleagues and the scholars improperly cited in her book.
This "immediate action" came in August 2013 after an anonymous tipster turned her in to the university. Having been discovered, she became terribly sorry. Nevertheless,
Kate Flint, a Victorianist who is familiar with Ryan’s work, and who is chair of the department of art history at the University of Southern California, said that Ryan’s response to the allegations demonstrates her academic integrity.
Now, if you will take a few minutes to read the table linked in the first paragraph, you can map your own impressions against these defenses of Ryan's actions (this again from Flint):
...the case demonstrated how easy it could be – even for the brightest young scholars – to accidentally mix their words with others’ after hours, days, and even years spent in libraries covering vast amounts of material. In time, she said, Ryan’s case might even be used a “lesson” for up-and-coming graduate students.

“Any of us could do this,” she said. “It’s a really, really unfortunate, even tragic case of somebody who has done something unwittingly they should not have done being made to pay far more than people usually are.”
Flint's defense, in a nutshell is that

(1) Ryan acted with integrity by stepping forward after being exposed as a plagiarist

(2) She accidentally "mixed her words with others" (the table shows no mixing and the sources did not even get a biblio entry)

(3) Any of us could accidentally become plagiarists at any moment (tragically!)

(3) She should not pay "more than people usually" pay for this action, whatever that means.

It's disturbing that a history professor would make such a defense. Given her attitude toward sources and "accidents," one would hope another anonymous tipster would now go through Flint's books with an eye towards attribution.

Ryan was exonerated by an investigative troika brimming with collegiality. They let her off with rationalizations. The Brown student newspaper:
The committee’s final report, delivered ... and approved ... in November, stated that though Ryan’s book contains plagiarized material from other sources, the plagiarism in question “does not rise to the level of misconduct.” “While, as a result of these mistakes, my book uses words from other scholars’ writings without attribution, the substance of the ideas in the book is my own,” Ryan wrote to The [Brown Daily] Herald.
Keach and 12 other faculty signed a letter protesting the investigation's outcome.
“Everyone I talked to in the English department understood that document [the troika's report] to be saying that research misconduct included plagiarism, that plagiarism is a form of research misconduct,” [Professor William] Keach said. “Therefore any judgment that a faculty member’s work contained errors that were plagiarism but not research misconduct was a kind of category mistake. It was contrary to the logic of the University rules.”
"Category mistake"? Or rank immorality?

In reading any mix of my writing and the writings of others, I can recognize others' passages. I may not be able to place the source, but I know when I see others' material. Either Ryan did not read the proofs or perhaps the book was assembled by helpers in a process too embarrassing to explain.