While the Roman Catholic church in Europe reels from a widening sex abuse crisis, the scandal that has plagued the U.S. church for nearly a decade is tapering off, says a new compilation reported by the Associated Press. The number of abuse victims, allegations, and offending clergy in the U.S. dropped in 2009 to their lowest numbers since data started being collected in 2004.
The price paid by the church has fallen. Dioceses and their insurers paid $104 million in settlements, attorneys’ fees, and related costs in 2009, down from $376 million in 2008. All told, the scandal’s price tag for settlements and other costs has risen to more than $2.7 billion. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops identifies 398 allegations of abuse involving clergy from Catholic dioceses in 2009 – a 36 percent decline from 2008. Most cases involved preteen or teen males and incidents decades old. The number of offenders dropped 32 percent, to 286. Most are dead, no longer in the priesthood, removed from ministry, or missing.