PORTSMOUTH, Va. — A judge has refused to dismiss an indictment against a Virginia city council member facing fraud and forgery charges after meeting behind closed doors with attorneys.

Portsmouth councilman Mark Whitaker was indicted in April on 20 felony charges following an investigation into a church where he serves as assistant pastor, its development company and its defunct credit union.

On Monday, a judge ordered the public and media out of the courtroom about 45 minutes into a three-hour hearing so attorneys could argue two defense motions regarding grand jury testimony that the court had previously ordered to be sealed.

Whitaker later told reporters that the road to vindication is a long one, but one he is prepared to travel.

Whitaker has previously said the grand jury investigation was politically motivated.