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Abuse claims against church declined in ’06

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NEW YORK (AP) — The nation's Roman Catholic bishops and religious orders received 714 clergy sex-abuse claims in 2006, the second consecutive year that the number of allegations has dropped, according to a new report on the church's child protection reforms. The vast majority of claims date back decades.

Costs related to abuse cases also decreased — by about 15 percent over the previous year — mainly due to a decline in what dioceses paid to settle molestation cases.

Dioceses and religious orders paid nearly $399 million in 2006 for settlements with victims, attorney fees and support for accusers and offenders. For 2005, that figure was $467 million — considered the highest ever for a single year.