A report commissioned by U.S. bishops states that less money was paid out by the U.S. Roman Catholic Church to clergy abuse victims in 2009 than in any other year since the sex scandal broke out.

The report stated that in 2009 398 cases of clergy sexual abuse was reported. In 2008 the number was at 620 and in 2004 889 people reported being the victims of clergy sexual abuse.

Of the 398 new sex abuse victims reported in the report, 251 were aged 10-14 when the alleged offenses began, and 61 were younger than 10.

A staggering 88 percent of the cases reported dated back decades ago.

According to the report compiled by the Washington-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), last year a total of $104.4 million was paid out to victims.

This dropped by nearly one third in one year. In 2008, the US Catholic Church paid out $376 million and in 2007 the payouts peaked at $499 million.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which commissioned the report, said the figures showed some "good news."

"It's a sign of the progress we have made," said George.

However, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said in a statement.""These numbers come from most of the same bishops who concealed and enabled clergy child sex crimes for decades. They are inherently suspect, to say the least."

According to the figures listed in the report, for every five-year period from 1955 until 1990, there were at least 20 cases of child sex abuse committed by priests, with a high of 79 cases between 1975 and 1979. From 2000-2004, only five new cases were reported, and between 2005 and 2009, there were nine new cases, the report said.

"There always has been, and will be, decades between the actual offense and the reporting of it," said SNAP.

Nine of the 286 alleged sex offenders were priests from abroad -- from El Salvador, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan and Poland. None of those reported in 2009 were from Ireland.