Claudia Peschiutta

LA CRESCENTA -- While rushing around her campaign office looking for a

cigarette, Susan Carpenter McMillan is excitedly talking about a women’s

meeting she attended.

A few minutes later, the Republican 44th Assembly District candidate

sits calmly talking about her parents, Charles, a land developer, and

Emma McMillan, and growing up in Glendale.

“I was kind of raised to be the prim and proper Anglo girl and I was

kind of a rebel,” Carpenter McMillan says.

Further talk about her childhood brings out her sense of


As she tells of being repeatedly molested as a child by a teen boy her

parents had invited into their home through a program for inner-city

young people, Carpenter McMillan speaks with a confident voice.

“People will say, ‘What makes you a strong woman?’ I say, ‘Surviving

at 6.

“Most women from my generation don’t want to talk about [abuse],” she

says firmly, almost shouting.

Though long silent about her sexual abuse, Carpenter McMillan, 51,

began finding her voice years ago and has since been making it heard.

Since then, she and seven other women in the mid-1980s founded the

Women’s Coalition, a privately funded, nonprofit public relations group,

Carpenter McMillan has gained national notoriety through her work as an

advocate for victims, some well-known.

She has battled to keep rapists and child molesters in prison and

played a major role in the 1996 passage of the state’s landmark chemical

castration law, which applies to twice-convicted sex offenders.

As a spokeswoman for Paula Jones -- the woman who sued President

Clinton for alleged sexual harassment stemming from a 1991 incident in an Arkansas hotel room -- Carpenter McMillan became a national celebrity.

Working with victims, she said, is almost a necessity for her.

“It’s just something I have to do,” she said. “To this day, I am

always drawn to the underdog. That is my passion.”

After years as an advocate, dealing with everything from negotiation

to legislation, Carpenter McMillan feels running for office is a natural


“I’d always wanted to run,” she said.

Cameo McMillan, 22, is used to seeing her mom in the spotlight and

defends her from those who accuse Carpenter McMillan of chasing fame.

“She’s not an act,” Cameo said. “What you see is what you get.”

What you get, does get peoples’ attention.

Carpenter McMillan is outspoken and flamboyant, something perhaps left

over from her days as a theater arts major at USC.

She said she dropped out of USC before getting her bachelor’s degree

to marry Bill McMillan (from whom she is now seperated) in 1973 and help

put him through law school.

Though she calls herself a “full-fledged college dropout,” and claims

she would never let Cameo and her younger daughter, Tara, get away with

the same, Carpenter McMillan said she has no regrets.

“I’m doing everything that I would ever want to do,” she said.


* NAME: Susan Carpenter McMillan, Republican candidate for the 44th

Assembly District.

* AGE: 51.

* RESIDENCE: Pasadena.

* FAMILY: Carpenter McMillan has two daughters, Cameo, 22, and Tara,


* POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Since the mid-1980s, Carpenter McMillan has

been serving as an advocate and a spokeswoman for victims through the

Women’s Coalition, an activist group she helped found.