The No. 1 reason—above all others—churches end up in court is as a result of child sexual abuse allegations, according to recently released data.

In 2016, the sexual abuse of a child slipped to the No. 2 reason churches end up in court, according to statistics first shared by Church Law and Tax. It went from being 11.7 percent of total cases to 8.3 percent. But the decline was short-lived; it swooped back up to the top spot one year later.

"I hoped it indicated a trend—a sign churches were responding more aggressively to prevention training—because of all the publicity child abuse has received in recent years," Richard R. Hammar, an attorney and senior editor for Church Law and Tax, wrote.

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