Prosecute the torture.

April 19, 2015

A Chuck McCullough Update - What's Known So Far

For those happy few not following the trial of former County Council member Charles P. "Chuck" McCullough, let me bring yinz up-to-date, en at.

While I have spent a few hours watching the trial from the back row of the court (and most of it is absolutely fascinating), I fear I lack the necessary journalistic/legal background to adequately and fairly comment on everything I've seen.  Lucky we have some competing newspaper reporters (Paula Reed Ward of the P-G and Bobby Kerlick of the Trib) covering the event as well as a smattering of TV coverage.

So let's see what the local press has had to say.

Day One (Monday, April 13)

The Trib:
After six years, two attorneys, several postponements and thousands of pages of documents, former Allegheny County Councilman Chuck McCullough took a seat at the defense table Monday, ready to fight charges that he stole thousands of dollars from an elderly widow.

Prosecutors charged McCullough, 60, of Upper St. Clair in 2009 with abusing his power of attorney to steal nearly $200,000 from the $14.7 million estate of Shirley Jordan, who died in 2010 at age 93. McCullough, a Republican who served as county solicitor for a year before he was a county councilman from 2007 to 2011, is charged with two dozen counts, including nine counts of felony theft.
The P-G:
When Charles McCullough was serving as co-trustee and power of attorney for an Upper St. Clair widow, he made several requests to PNC Bank on how to spend the woman’s money.

He requested that his sister be hired as Shirley Jordan’s companion at a rate of $60 per hour.

He wanted the bank to release money for Ms. Jordan to buy property from another of his clients.

He asked Ms. Jordan to donate $10,000 to Catholic Charities, which at the time was run by his wife.

And he requested his young son be paid to mow the woman’s yard.

Those instances were just a few laid out by the prosecution Monday during the first day of Mr. McCullough’s nonjury trial before Senior Judge Lester G. Nauhaus in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.
And:
Mr. McCullough began his work with Ms. Jordan in early 2006 and worked with Thomas Gray, a relationship manager with PNC Bank, to establish a trust for the then-90-year-old woman, whose financial worth was about $14 million. At the time, bank officials had discovered that Ms. Jordan was accumulating several large checks that were not being deposited into her bank account. They then learned that many of her bills, including utilities and taxes, were going unpaid, Mr. Gray testified.

“She thought she was fairly poor,” Mr. Gray said. “She just didn’t think she had a lot of money to live on.”

Mr. McCullough became a trustee for Ms. Jordan, and at one point requested that some of her money be used to buy land from another client of his and to use $500,000 to buy a certificate of deposit, Mr. Gray said.

Neither of those requests were approved.
You can read the original criminal complaint here, by the way.  Since six years passed between the filing of that complaint and the trial I can't be sure exactly the same charges were presented in court.  Here's the list of charges found on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas website.

Day Two  

The Trib:
Prosecutors contend McCullough improperly steered the donation to Catholic Charities because his wife, now a Commonwealth Court judge, was running the charity and in the midst of fundraising.

The gift to Catholic Charities was not the lone gift prosecutors say McCullough doled out with Jordan's money. Lisa Carey, district manager for Northwest Savings Bank, testified that McCullough asked that $10,000 checks be sent to the campaign funds of Republican political candidates Sue Caldwell, Jan Rea, Vince Gastgeb and Cheryl Allen, now a Superior Court judge. All of the then-candidates later returned the money.

Witnesses testified that McCullough shifted Jordan's money from PNC Bank to Northwest Bank in 2007.
The P-G:
John Goetz, the former president of the [board of directors for the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh], testified Tuesday against Charles P. McCullough, a former Allegheny County councilman accused of stealing from Shirley H. Jordan when he served as her power of attorney and co-trustee of her trust fund.
And:
Witnesses on Tuesday included employees at PNC Bank, which initially administered the Jordan trust fund in 2006, as well as an employee at Northwest Savings Bank, where the trust was moved in early 2007 at Mr. McCullough’s request.

It was Northwest that approved and issued four $10,000 checks to political candidates that brought Mr. McCullough’s actions out in the public.

Mr. Goetz testified that his concerns began after reading a newspaper story on April 13, 2007.
That would be this story, by the P-G's Dennis Roddy.  We'll get to Roddy a bit later, just you wait.

Back to the P-G:
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report revealed that Ms. Jordan was upset by a number of political contributions that had been made in her name to Republican candidates — county council members Vince Gastgeb, Jan Rea and Susan Caldwell, and Cheryl Allen, then a candidate for Superior Court. In the story, she said the donations were orchestrated by Mr. McCullough.

“The donor was saying it was against her will to give such a donation,” Mr. Goetz testified.
The Trib :
Chuck McCullough's political adversaries, including the man who's now Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto's chief of staff, became suspicious in 2007 when he arranged for an elderly widow unknown in political circles to donate $40,000 to Republican politicians.

Kevin Acklin, Peduto's top aide, took the witness stand Wednesday on the third day of the criminal trial of McCullough, 60, of Upper St. Clair on charges he abused his power of attorney to steal nearly $200,000 from the $14.7 million estate of Shirley Jordan, who died in 2010 at age 93. Common Pleas Judge Lester Nauhaus is hearing the non-jury trial.

McCullough and Acklin, a Republican-turned-Democrat, were competing for an at-large county council seat in 2007. Acklin testified that some of his supporters, including then-Councilman Vince Gastgeb, withdrew their support once McCullough handed out the checks.

While in Upper St. Clair gathering signatures, Acklin visited Jordan's house, he said.

“The condition of her house looked like no one lived there. There was a window without drapes, a gutter was dislodged, there were water-logged phone books covered in snow outside and mail,” Acklin testified. “I called Vince Gastgeb and said, ‘Who is Shirley Jordan?' Gastgeb said Jordan was a client of McCullough's and he had served as her estate (lawyer).”

Acklin said that raised a red flag.
The P-G:
The condition of the house raised Mr. Acklin’s suspicions, and he began an investigation to see who Ms. Jordan was. He learned that she was represented by Mr. McCullough, and that she was living in a nursing facility. Mr. Acklin also went to the county’s department of court records to check her files.

A day or two later, Mr. Acklin, now chief of staff to Mayor Bill Peduto, received a call from Mr. McCullough.

“ ‘What were you doing snooping around court records, the Recorder of Deeds?’ ” Mr. Acklin said the former county councilman asked him.

“I said, ‘You know exactly what I was doing,’ ” Mr. Acklin recounted during the non-jury trial. “He seemed agitated.” Then, Mr. Acklin testified, Mr. McCullough said, “ ‘You might want to ask around town who you’re [messing] with.’ ”
Uh-oh.

Day Three and Four

The Trib:
Elderly widow Shirley Jordan “gasped” and seemed startled when told that her attorney had doled out a $10,000 political donation from her trust fund, a former reporter testified Thursday.

Former Post-Gazette reporter Dennis Roddy testified Thursday about his 2007 interview with Jordan during the fourth day of the trial of former Allegheny County Councilman Chuck McCullough. Prosecutors accused McCullough, 60, of Upper St. Clair, in 2009 of bilking $200,000 from the $14.7 million trust of Jordan, who died in 2010 at the age of 93.
And then:
Common Pleas Judge Lester Nauhaus halted the trial Thursday in the middle of Roddy's testimony, after defense attorney Jon Pushinsky objected on hearsay grounds. Pushinsky contends the testimony should not be considered because it's hearsay and he can't cross-examine Jordan.

Nauhaus ordered Pushinsky and Assistant District Attorney John Fitzgerald to write legal briefs on the matter.
The Trib:
Nauhaus overruled defense objections about Roddy's testimony and said he would consider parts of it, including that Jordan told Roddy that McCullough was a “cheap politician.”

Roddy continued his testimony from Thursday and said he specifically asked Jordan if perhaps she forgot about the donations, including a $10,000 donation to then-Superior Court candidate Cheryl Allen.

“She said, ‘I would never give $10,000 to politics,' ” Roddy testified.
Then there was this:
A few days after Roddy interviewed Jordan, McCullough called Upper St. Clair police to complain about a reporter, who he said did not identify himself and was harassing and badgering his client.

Roddy said he signed into the facility and identified himself as a reporter to Jordan. No charges were filed.
That last part's one of the charges filed against McCullough, by the way.  In the original complaint we read:
The actor knowingly gave false information, namely on April 18, 2007 DEFENDANT KNOWINGLY AND FALSELY REPORTED TO UPPER ST. CLAIR POLICE DEPARTMENT THAT DENNIS RODD HARASSED SHIRLEY H. JORDAN WHEN NO SUCH INCIDENT OF HARASSMENT BY DENNIS RODDY HAD OCCURRED to a law enforcement office with intent to implicate another, in violation of 18Pa C.S. 4906(a) [Capitalization in original]
  Then finally, there's this from the P-G:
Two days after an article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2007 outlining an elderly widow’s denunciation of tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions made in her name, the man who is accused of facilitating the donations tried to convince her otherwise.
The Trib:
“He said there was some information in the newspaper that was not true and that he was going to read it to her,” testified Alice Greenway, a care worker who took care of Jordan at an assisted living home. “He asked her to sign something to say, ‘This is what's true and the newspaper account was not.' She refused.”

McCullough was telling Jordan as they went through the newspaper story, “I didn't do that. I wouldn't do that,” Greenway testified.

McCullough then wrote up a second document for Greenway to sign, saying she saw Jordan agree with McCullough.

“I wouldn't do it,” Greenway testified.
That's what's been reported in the local newspapers, so far.

Reminder: The trial still going on and Charles P. McCullough still has the presumption of innocence as guaranteed by law.  He's still innocent until proven guilty and it's still the prosecution's responsibility to prove its case.

April 14, 2015

More On Joey Farah And His Birthers' Hypocrisy (Marco Rubio Edition)

Hey, remember this?

That's the blogpost where I assert that if the birthers' invalid criteria for Barack Obama's presidential ineligibility were valid, then they'd also have to question the presidential eligibility of the Republican (and Canadian-born) Senator Cruz as well.

For the record I was not questioning Cruz eligibility, just pointing out the birthers' hypocrisy for not protesting the Republican as much as the Democrat.

Well, now that Senator Marco Rubio has announced his presidential campaign, he has exactly the same problem with the birthers as neither of his parents were US citizens when he was born.  And the birthers will show exactly the same hypocrisy if they don't protest the Miami-born Senator's eligibility as loudly as they've protested the Hawaii-born Obama for half a decade.

But let's go to birther central for a ruling:
Moments after Mitt Romney’s landslide victory in the Florida Republican Primary, WND Editor Joseph Farah declared on national television that Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio would not be a good selection for vice president because he’s not a natural-born citizen of the U.S., and therefore is not legally qualified to hold the office.

“Rubio’s not eligible … because he’s not a natural-born citizen,” Farah told Sean Hannity on the Fox News Channel.
For the record, since Rubio was born in Miami he's eligible to be president.

But we're not talking about facts here, we're talking what the birthers have said.  And according to them since Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is constitutionally no eligibile:
A consensus on the correct definition of “natural-born citizen” has eluded lawyers and scholars for more than 200 years. The Constitution’s silence, the absence of definitive Supreme Court rulings and a wide array of opinions through the centuries have only further confused the question of what “natural born” actually means.

Retired Navy Cmdr. Charles Kerchner who has filed a legal challenge against Obama’s eligibility, is among those critical of Jindal’s legal qualification.

“Governor Jindal is a ‘citizen of the United States’ since he was born in the USA, but he is not a ‘natural-born citizen of the United States’ since his parents were not citizens of the United States when Governor Jindal was born,” said Kerchner, who runs the ProtectOurLiberty website.

“As a citizen of the United States, he is, of course, eligible to a governor, senator, or U.S. representative, but he is not constitutionally eligible to be the president and commander in chief of our military (per Article II, Section 1) nor is he eligible to be the vice president (per the 12th Amendment) since he is not a “natural-born citizen of the United States.” [Links and emphasis in original]
 They have to feel the same way about Rubio.

Where are the Cruz and/or Rubio birther protests?  Will Fox "News" be covering them, too?

April 13, 2015

Yes, It's Happenning!! (More On Chuck McCullough's Trial)

The trial of Charles P. "Chuck" McCullough, that is.  Needless to say, it's only taken 2,245 days since he was arrested.

This morning, I made sure I was there to witness it - if only to make reassure myself in the days, weeks, months and years ahead it really happened.

If you're looking for details on the case, both major newspapers already have stuff posted:

Paula Reed Ward of the P-G:
Six years after criminal charges were filed against former Allegheny County councilman Charles P. McCullough, his trial began this morning in Common Pleas Court.

Mr. McCullough, an attorney from Upper St. Clair, faces nearly two dozen counts, including theft, misapplication of funds, making false statements and conspiracy in a nonjury trial before Senior Judge Lester G. Nauhaus.
Yea, and it took Judge Nauhaus nearly 20 minutes to read them all to McCullough during the arraignment.

Bobby Kerlik of the Trib:
The long-awaited trial of former Allegheny County Councilman Chuck McCullough started Monday, nearly six years after prosecutors filed charges against him.

Prosecutors accused McCullough, 60, of Upper St. Clair, of abusing his power of attorney to steal nearly $200,000 from the $14.7 million estate of Shirley Jordan, an elderly woman who died in 2010 at age 93. McCullough, a Republican who served as county solicitor for a year before he was a county councilman from 2007 to 2011, is charged with two dozen counts, including nine counts of felony theft.
Look for TV coverage by Alan Jennings of WPXI and Harold Hayes of KDKA as well.  They were sitting about 6 feet away from me this morning.

 At last, I can finally stop the "how many days HAS it been since Chuck was arrested?" blog posts!


April 12, 2015

And so it begins...

First, with an email to close supporters:


Then, with a video on her Facebook page:



And, new logo and revamped web site:













And, finally, with the tweet everyone was waiting for:

Jack Kelly Sunday

In today's Post-Gazette,  it takes Jack Kelly all of his 22 paragraphs to play the Nazi card.

In denouncing the so-called "intolerance of the left" he ends his column by referring to those on the "secular left" who want members of the LGBT community to be free of faith-based intolerance as "dime store Nazis."

Yes, he did. 

But let's start with his theology as he spends much of his time with his spectacled nose in the Bible - justifying his own cultural myopia.

Jack writes:
I don’t think a person’s sexual preference has anything to do with character — or is any of my business.

I applaud gays in long-term, monogamous relationships. They ought to have the same legal protections as if they were married. But I’m against gay marriage, because God said marriage is between a man and a woman, and I take Him at His word.
While I am not sure exactly where in the Bible Jack finds God's definition of marriage, I am guessing it wouldn't that far from this:
4 And he answered and said, Have ye not read, that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female,

5 and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?

6 So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (Matthew 19:4-6)
The "he" in those passages would be Jesus, of course.  And while it's a definition of joining just one man to just one woman into just one flesh it's also, in a way, an anti-divorce pronouncement (let no man put asunder what god has joined and all that), isn't it ?

Let me say that I applaud Jack for the first three of his sentences above - it's a good thing he's not among teh crazie intolerants of the right.  Like this guy in California:
A California lawyer has devised an initiative titled “The Sodomite Suppression Act.” Yes, this isn’t something from The Onion or National Report, this is a very real ballot initiative designed by someone who is both nutty and probably thinks more about making sexy time more than members of the gay community do.
The telling part is found in the text of the initiative:
SODOMITE SUPPRESSION ACT

Penal Code section 39

a) The abominable crime against nature known as buggery, called also sodomy, is a monstrous evil that Almighty God, giver of freedom and liberty, commands us to suppress on pain of our utter destruction even as he overthrew Sodom and Gomorrha.

b) Seeing that it is better that offenders should die rather than that all of us should be killed by God's just wrath against us for the folly of tolerating wickedness in our midst, the people of California wisely command, in the fear of God, that any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.
I'm just not so sure about Jack's last sentence.  I mean that California lawyer presumably takes God at His word, too, right?  And Leviticus does say this, right?
And if a man lie with mankind, as with womankind, both of them have committed abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
So now I'm confused.  Jack says he takes God at His word and Jack's God says that men who have sex with men should be put to death.  But Jack says he applauds "gays in long-term monogamous relationships."  So when does Jack applaud?  Is that before or after they're put to death?  Does Jack Kelly take God at His word or not?

While we're talking about it, here's a question for you, Jack.  What are some of the other acts in the Bible that are punishable by death?

Exodus 31:15
Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to Jehovah: whosoever doeth any work on the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
Leviticus 24:16
And he that blasphemeth the name of Jehovah, he shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the sojourner, as the home-born, when he blasphemeth the name of Jehovah, shall be put to death.
I'm writing this on a Sunday and while I'm not getting paid for it it's certainly work.  Oh, and I admit it, I'm also mocking The Word of God.

Shouldn't I be put to death as well?  I mean, if you take God at His word, you kinda hafta answer with a hearty (and self-righteous) "Hell, yea!" don't you?

We can go on like this for hours but it does raise a bigger question: what does any of  this have to do with public policy or the law?  Should centuries-old ignorance have any place in how a just society orders itself?

If we take The Word - all of it, not just the nice parts - as a serious plan for how we treat each other, then misery must surely follow (Death to the adulterers! Death to those who blaspheme!)

Each of us is certainly free to believe what we want to believe, but in a free society all citizens are to be treated fairly and equally and any restrictions on that fairness and equality (even if they're faith-based) simply have no place in a just society.

April 11, 2015

Obama, Climate Science, and CNSNews

I found this today at CNSNews:
Speaking at Howard University in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, President Barack Obama said that climate change is a “primary” national security threat to the United States.

“The Pentagon has already said that climate change is a primary national security threat that we’re going to face, and we are working with the Department of Defense to start preparing for that and mitigating for that,” Obama said. “And a lot of our international policy and national security policy is centered around the very real concerns that that’s going to raise.”
And so on.  Of course this being CNSNews (aka "Cybercast News Service" aka "Conservative News Service") the comments are caustic and scorching.  Like this one:
Can we sue someone for criminal fraud? Or something? This should embarrASS the Soviet/fascist trolls, the evidence is overwhelming that, at the very least, the debate ain't over. Provable Falsified data, flat out statements of lies. At least we want to debate the issue, mostly to show the chicanery of the left, (cause we got real evidence). We got a criminal case against every alarmists who knew & accepted funds to defraud the US taxpayer. Confidence schemes are a felony.
So it's defrauding the US Taxpayers if you're not denying the science?

What was it that the president said?  Oh yea, that's right:
The Pentagon has already said that climate change is a primary national security threat that we’re going to face...
Where do they say that?  Where is the Pentagon pushing "Provable Falsified data, flat out statements of lies" in it's "Confidence schemes" that are defrauding us taxpayers?

Here - the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review.

On page 8, after a paragraph on the threat posed by terrorist organizations post-9/11 and how
The possibility that rapidly- developing threats, including violent protests and terrorist attacks, could escalate quickly and directly threaten U.S. interests at home and abroad is a significant challenge for the United States.
We read this:
Climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing, and severe weather patterns are accelerating. 
I wonder when the anti-science crowd will be pursuing its criminal case against the Pentagon for defrauding the US Taxpayer by pushing this flat out statement of lies?

Getting back to reality (I know that by definition be difficult for the anti-science crowd) the president also said:
And that’s why, today, we’re making more than 150 data sets on climate change in public health from agencies like the CDC open to the public.
Here's a Fact Sheet released by the White House outlining the release of the data and a place to find the data sets themselves.

Or you can deny the science while the planet continues to heat up.

April 9, 2015

Chuck McCullough Update...?

Can it really be happening?

From the Trib last November 30:
When an Allegheny County grand jury recommended charges against former county Councilman and Solicitor Charles McCullough for allegedly taking money from an elderly woman's estate, the Steelers were Super Bowl champions, Barack Obama had recently become the first black president, and the iPhone 3 was relatively new.

In the five years since, the Steelers have not won a Super Bowl, Obama won a second term and the iPhone 6 is Apple's latest device. Meanwhile, the case against the Upper St. Clair Republican has been mired in continuances and appeals. Common Pleas Judge Donald E. Machen, who was presiding over the case, retired.

The case has muddled through two defense attorneys, two judges, six continuances, three status hearings, at least 15 motions and two appeals.

For the first time since McCullough's arrest Feb. 19, 2009, his lawyer believes the case is finally on track. Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman, administrative judge for the court's criminal division, assigned the case to Judge Lester G. Nauhaus in November and scheduled a trial for April 13. [Emphasis added.]
And according to the docket, it's true, it's true!

And it will only have taken 2,245 days since Chuck's arrest.

2,245 is a lotta days!   Here's a short list of some things that have taken fewer than 2,245 days:
  • WWII in the Pacific - December 7, 1941 (Attack on Pearl Harbor) to August 15, 1945 (VJ Day): 1,347 days
  • Civil War - April 12, 1861 (Confederate forces fire on Fort Sumpter) to April 9, 1865 (Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox): 1,458 days
  • Richard Nixon - His entire time as president: 2,027 days
  • WWII in Europe - September 1, 1939 (Germany invades Poland) to May 7, 1945 (Germany Surrenders): 2,075 days
All those things took less time from start to finish than it will have taken the Chuck McCullough trial to start.

If indeed it starts on Monday.

We'll see.

April 7, 2015

Rolling Stone, UVA and What Went Wrong

This week, Rolling Stone magazine published a report detailing the many many ways they erred in reporting on an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia.

They explain:
Last November, we published a story, 'A Rape on Campus' [RS 1223], that centered around a University of Virginia student's horrifying account of her alleged gang rape at a campus fraternity house. Within days, commentators started to question the veracity of our narrative. Then, when The Washington Post uncovered details suggesting that the assault could not have taken place the way we described it, the truth of the story became a subject of national controversy.

As we asked ourselves how we could have gotten the story wrong, we decided the only responsible and credible thing to do was to ask someone from outside the magazine to investigate any lapses in reporting, editing and fact-checking behind the story. We reached out to Steve Coll, dean of the Columbia School of Journalism, and a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter himself, who accepted our offer. We agreed that we would cooperate fully, that he and his team could take as much time as they needed and write whatever they wanted. They would receive no payment, and we promised to publish their report in full.
The CSJ report doesn't add much to what was already discovered in the days and weeks after Rolling Stone first published "A Rape on Campus" in November, 2014.  We blogged on it here.

The reactions to the report have been harsh, to say the least.  From Howard Kurtz at Fox News (via The Daily Caller):
Fox News’ Howard Kurtz called the false Rolling Stone story on rape at the University of Virginia “one of the worst journalistic catastrophes of the last half-century.”

Kurtz, who made the comments on “The Kelly File” to host Megyn Kelly Monday night, said it’s “unimaginable” that the story made it to print.
While I would say it certainly was a journalistic catastrophe, I would not go so far as to say it was one of the worst such catastrophes in the last half century.  For that I'd have to point to the clusterfuck that was the mainstream media's failure to fact check the Bush Administration in the run up to the Iraq war.  But then again that's just me and we should remember that Kurtz was talking to Megyn Kelly on Fox "News."

To PoliticsUSA:
Coll’s findings are blistering condemnation of multiple mistakes and errors in judgement on the part of everyone from the writer to multiple editors, a fact-check and possibly a lawyer. Moreover, he makes it abundantly clear that none of this was “Jackie’s” fault.

This was despite Rolling Stone’s attempt to excuse its journalistic shortcomings because they were “too accommodating” of the alleged victim, “Jackie.” Even in their retraction, Rolling Stone tried to shift responsibility to Jackie. Rolling Stone didn’t get it when they ran the story and they don’t get it now. Instead of advancing the very real issue that rape does happen on campus, Rolling Stone reinforced the fears that every rape victim has. First, that she won’t be believed and second that she will be blamed.
As much as I am in agreement with Adalia Woodbury (who wrote that piece at PoliticsUSA) I think she may be veering off topic somewhat.

Before I get to that, I have to say that Rolling Stone is completely wrong when they defend themselves with this:
Yet Rolling Stone's senior editors are unanimous in the belief that the story's failure does not require them to change their editorial systems. "It's not like I think we need to overhaul our process, and I don't think we need to necessarily institute a lot of new ways of doing things," Dana said. "We just have to do what we've always done and just make sure we don't make this mistake again." Coco McPherson, the fact-checking chief, said, "I one hundred percent do not think that the policies that we have in place failed. I think decisions were made around those because of the subject matter."
Their story: the editorial policies didn't fail, they just weren't followed because it was a rape story.

But isn't the necessity to follow a policy kinda sorta part of that policy?  Or at the very least, wouldn't not following a particular editorial policy somehow break another editorial policy?

And for a blunder this damaging, to admit to the blunders with no one being punished for making them is just plain wrong.  In the end it'll only invalidate whatever credibility Rolling Stone has left.

But it's not like it's impossible to get fired from Rolling Stone.  From Slate:
Too bad, though, that Rolling Stone didn’t seem to have that same loyalty toward other staff members who had been forced out of the magazine for offenses that seem downright minor—if offenses at all—in comparison with the UVA rape story debacle. In 1996, Wenner fired senior music editor Jim DeRogatis after he wrote a negative review of Hootie and the Blowfish, which was replaced by a positive review. When the New York Observer asked DeRogatis whether Wenner was a fan of the band he answered: “No, I think he’s just a fan of bands which sell eight and a half million copies."
(Full disclosure: While I never bought a "Hootie" CD or saw them in concert, I kinda like the band.)

But let's return to something that Woodbury said above, namely that:
Rolling Stone’s attempt to excuse its journalistic shortcomings because they were “too accommodating” of the alleged victim, “Jackie.”
It's something Jessica Valenti discusses more broadly at The Guardian:
But these mistakes were not made because writers and editors were protecting a young woman they believed to be traumatized. Coll found that, despite the editors’ insistence that mistakes made were out of a heightened sensitivity to rape victims, “Erdely’s reporting records and interviews with participants make clear that the magazine did not pursue important reporting paths even when Jackie had made no request that they refrain.”

“The editors made judgments about attribution, fact-checking and verification that greatly increased their risks of error but had little or nothing to do with protecting Jackie’s position,” he wrote.
Though she misses this part of the report:
Yet the editors and Erdely have concluded that their main fault was to be too accommodating of Jackie because she described herself as the survivor of a terrible sexual assault. Social scientists, psychologists and trauma specialists who support rape survivors have impressed upon journalists the need to respect the autonomy of victims, to avoid re-traumatizing them and to understand that rape survivors are as reliable in their testimony as other crime victims. These insights clearly influenced Erdely, Woods and Dana. "Ultimately, we were too deferential to our rape victim; we honored too many of her requests in our reporting," Woods said. "We should have been much tougher, and in not doing that, we maybe did her a disservice."[Emphasis added.]
First thing I have to say here is - maybe?  They maybe did Jackie a disservice? 

But I think it points to what seems to me to be a major indictment of the report - that in balancing need to respect the autonomy of the victims with getting all the facts, there's a danger in scaling back the necessary skepticism of those victims' allegations.  Whether Rolling Stone was out to protect Jackie personally, it seems obvious to me that they simply weren't skeptical enough of her story out of fear of losing her cooperation.  They shaded too much away from a more robust fact-check for that reason.  For example there's this:
Jackie proved to be a challenging source. At times, she did not respond to Erdely's calls, texts and emails. At two points, the reporter feared Jackie might withdraw her cooperation. Also, Jackie refused to provide Erdely the name of the lifeguard who had organized the attack on her. She said she was still afraid of him. That led to tense exchanges between Erdely and Jackie, but the confrontation ended when Rolling Stone's editors decided to go ahead without knowing the lifeguard's name or verifying his existence. After that concession, Jackie cooperated fully until publication.
Why else would they not pursue the lifeguard unless they were respecting Jackie's fear of him?

No, in the most general sense it was precisely because of that avoidance to re-traumatize someone making a rape allegation that led to the mistakes of Erdley and Rolling Stone.

As I wrote last November:
The bad reporting by Erdley and Rolling Stone did no one any favors, not Jackie, not UVA, and certainly not the next woman to be sexually assaulted on some college campus somewhere.
While I have no idea when that'll happen, I do know two things:  It'll be soon and it'll be that much harder for her to be taken seriously because Rolling Stone botched Jackie's story by not doing a better job of reporting on it and the subject of campus rape.