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The Reno Gazette Journal reports today that dioceses and religious institutions paid almost $400 million in settlements for claims in 2005, according to a survey released Thursday by Roman Catholic officials.

The latest nationwide figures were released by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Office of Child and Youth Protection. The figures came from its third annual audit of dioceses across the county to determine how they have complied with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The charter was developed in 2002 after allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests, deacons and bishops soared. It mandated that all dioceses create safe environments for children and established guidelines for dealing with abuse claims.

The national total for new allegations was down from the 1,092 claims reported in 2004, the study found. Nine of the 783 new claims involved abuse against children that occurred in 2005, the report said, while the remaining 774 new allegations were for abuse that occurred or began between 1960 and 1979.

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