REDDING, Calif. (AP) — A Shasta County Superior Court judge has ruled that a Redding church must open its financial books as part of a lawsuit claiming its leaders defrauded congregants.

The lawsuit was filed in March after church directors at Bonnyview Baptist Church sought to sell the property without church members' consent.

Congregant Michael Duffy, who filed the lawsuit, said church leaders also pocketed $90,000.

Church leaders insist they have the authority to sell church assets without a membership vote. The Rev. Danny Ray Smith also denied that any money was stolen.

Church bylaws had required a vote of the membership to sell assets, but they were amended in February to eliminate that requirement.

Superior Court Judge Bradley Boeckman said the church can't be sold until the lawsuit is settled.