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Clergy abuse claim settlements almost double in 2007: US Catholic bishops

[JURIST] Total payments in clergy abuse [JURIST news archive] settlements nearly doubled in 2007 to reach $526 million, the highest number ever, according to an annual report [PDF text; press release] by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops [religious website] released Friday. The number of new allegations of abuse fell for the third year in a row, dropping by three percent. The total number of offenders named in new allegations rose 10 percent, from 448 to 491.

Last year's report [PDF text] found that claims of clergy sex abuse levied against the US Roman Catholic Church involving claimants under age 18 had dropped significantly in 2006 [JURIST report]. 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. Settlements involved dioceses across the country. The total settlements of all Catholic clergy abuse claims have cost the US church at least $2.3 billion since 1950. AP has more.

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