Bishop Tod Brown of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange has pleaded not guilty to a criminal charge of being in contempt of court.
A Superior Court judge allowed attorneys to make opening statements in the case Tuesday before continuing the hearing until December.
The contempt hearing was originally sought by attorneys who represent an alleged sexual abuse victim.
They complained that Brown had sent a high-ranking church official to Canada for medical treatment before he could be fully deposed in the case.
The lawyers had expected the judge to dismiss their contempt filing because the sexual abuse lawsuit that led to it settled last week.
But Brown's attorney insisted on going forward to "clear the Bishop's name."