UNDATED (AP) - A report on sex abuse by priests in the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. says the scandal may be tapering off, even as it widens in Europe.
The latest annual report from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says the number of abuse victims, allegations and offending clergy in the U.S. dropped in 2009. It's at the lowest number since data started being collected in 2004.
The report identifies 398 allegations of abuse involving clergy in 2009 - a 36 percent decline from 2008. Most cases involved preteen or teen males and incidents that were decades old, in keeping with past patterns.
The price paid by the church has fallen, too. Dioceses and their insurers paid $104 million in settlements, attorneys' fees and other abuse-related costs in 2009, down from $376 million in 2008.
All told, the scandal's estimated price tag has risen to more than $2.7 billion.