[JURIST] Claims of clergy sex abuse [JURIST news archive] levied against the US Roman Catholic Church decreased for the second year in a row and recent cases involving claimants under age 18 have dropped significantly, according to an annual report [PDF text; press release] released Wednesday by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops [official website]. The survey, compiled by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University [official website], cites figures from nearly all 195 dioceses in the US and reports that claims dropped from 1,092 in 2004 to 783 in 2005 [JURIST report] to 714 in 2006, only 17 of which were from people under 18. Money spent by the dioceses and religious orders on support, settlements and litigation fees also dropped from $467 million to $399 million last year.
The report measures the US dioceses' compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People [text], drafted in 2002 in response to widespread reports of sexual abuse committed by clergymen. The report, however, has been criticized since an accompanying independent audit included only 11 full, on-site visits to US dioceses and no reviews of personnel files. AP has more.