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McMillan and husband

National | The woman who came between Paula Jones and her lawyers acts as big sister and defender in what is likely to be the most significant sexual-harassment trial in the nation's history

Issue: "Stand in the gap," Oct. 18, 1997

They had met for four hours, the lawyers looking over the potential client, the client assessing the lawyers, and now it was evening, and Paula Jones sat at DeLacy's Club 41, waiting.

Earlier in the day, they had convened at the home of Susan Carpenter McMillan, friend, confidante, and now spokesman for the woman who has accused President Clinton of sexual harassment. The three Texas attorneys walked into the restaurant, and Don Campbell, team leader, bent over Paula Jones's shoulder and spoke into her ear, but loudly enough for everyone else at the table to hear: "We'd be proud to represent you," he said, "if you will have us."

And thus opened the next chapter in Paula Jones's pursuit of justice: an apology from the world's most powerful leader for his behavior in an Arkansas hotel room. It brought to an end what had become an acrimonious relationship between Mrs. Jones and her previous legal team, two lawyers who quit after she refused an $800,000 settlement that didn't include an explicit apology from Mr. Clinton.

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From the recent twists in Mrs. Jones's case have emerged a new cast of characters, including the prickly Mrs. McMillan, a self-proclaimed Christian feminist who is well-known in Southern California for her pro-life activism. Mr. Campbell, who has become Mrs. Jones's lead attorney, has been a lawyer for the Rutherford Institute, which has agreed to raise the money for Mrs. Jones's suit.

The case is a natural one for the Rutherford Institute, says John Whitehead, president of the Washington-based organization, which was formed to defend religious liberty. "I think that abuse of women is a common practice in this country, has been for years, and it's time to stop," Mr. Whitehead told WORLD. "The group was founded to help people in need, the Good Samaritan principle. I've been preaching that ever since the beginning. I think Christians need to help whoever is in need."

The other issue at stake, Mr. Whitehead says, is accountability. "No one's above the law, not even the president. That's what the colonists were saying when they wrote the Declaration of Independence. Someone here's not telling the truth. If the president's not telling the truth, we need to know that."

After meeting with Mrs. Jones, Mr. Whitehead and the lawyers from Dallas were convinced of her veracity and of her financial need. Mrs. Jones is a homemaker-mother of a 5-year-old and a 1-year-old; her husband, an airlines reservations clerk, earns $37,000 a year.

While the lawyers met Mrs. Jones on a professional basis, Mrs. McMillan's relationship with her grew out of a telephone introduction four years ago, shortly after Mrs. Jones had filed her suit. Critics have accused Mrs. McMillan of using Mrs. Jones to elevate her own profile-lead Clinton attorney Robert Bennett says she's "taken over the case"-charges at which Mrs. McMillan scoffs. Their friendship intensified about two years ago when Mrs. Jones was pregnant with her last child, and Mrs. McMillan wanted to throw a baby shower. Mrs. Jones said that wouldn't be possible, because she hadn't made any friends in California. "I just made it a point to get together with her more, and our friendship really grew," Mrs. McMillan says. "Today she is like a kid sister. I truly love her. We have a deep, deep sisterly relationship."

Mrs. McMillan's own spiritual journey began early. She was raised in a Pentecostal home; her mother and grandmother were ordained by Amy Semple McPherson in the Four Square Church. She says she accepted Christ at a Billy Graham crusade when she was six, but it was years before she understood the gospel. "When you're raised Pentecostal," she says, "you lost your salvation every week."

At 18, she joined the Presbyterian Church. Her husband, William McMillan, an attorney, is Irish Catholic, and they attend a Catholic church now. "We consider ourselves born-again Christians," she says. "... Christ is the center, not always the head, unfortunately, but the center of our lives."

Her father taught her that from those to whom much is given, much should be returned, which remains a guiding principle. "When I was very young, my father used to haul my sorry little fanny down to the Union Rescue Mission as he would preach and pray and wash the hands and dirty feet of bums who threw up on him."

It was her father's generosity, she says, that helped make her who she is, but that came about in a way her father never intended. When she was six, a missionary convinced her father to take in a 16-year-old gang member in hopes of salvaging him from the streets of Los Angeles. That began a year of sexual molestation about which she never told her father, who is deceased. She only told her mother a year ago.

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