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Archive for Saturday, May 17, 2003

Sweet smell of perfume could land wife in prison

Husband claims sensitivity to fragrances

May 17, 2003

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— When Lynda Taylor put on perfume and lit scented candles throughout the house, it wasn't romance she had on her mind.

It was spite, police say.

Taylor, 36, was arrested last week on charges she tried to seriously injure her chemically sensitive husband.

In addition to using the perfume and candles, Taylor sprayed the house with bug killer and Lysol disinfectant, plugged in scented air fresheners and emptied lavender sachets throughout the home, her husband says.

David Taylor, 46, says the fragrances caused him to swoon -- and not in the hearts-and-flowers sense, either. He says he fell into a stupor that left him too feeble even to call for help.

"This extreme exposure made me very ill with severe brain fog, headache, numbness and trembling and pain throughout my body so severe I could barely move," he wrote in his complaint.

His wife denies using fragrances to torment her husband and suggests he is faking his sensitivity to chemicals. She says she often dabbed on perfume and it never affected him before during their three-year marriage.

"He takes a little bit of the truth and twists it into full-blown lies," she says.

Taylor's husband claims to suffer from a rare disorder called multiple chemical sensitivity, an allergic reaction to perfumes and other scents that he says can be fatal.

The couple had been feuding over a $150,000 workers' compensation settlement that the husband received in March for his illness. Taylor says he and his wife were talking about splitting up, and his wife became hostile when he refused to give her half the money and the house.

He says his wife, with help from his stepdaughter, subjected him to three days of torment in early April. She started with perfume, then moved on to other scents after police came to the couple's home and said it wasn't a crime to wear fragrance, he says.

"They thought the effect it had on me was hilarious," he wrote in his complaint.

Finally, after Taylor's doctor supplied a letter to verify his sensitivity to scents, police arrested the wife. She was released after being charged with aggravated battery, which carries up to 15 years in prison.

"When everything comes out, the facts will show that it's a lot more serious than just spraying perfume," says Jennifer Thomas, a prosecutor. "Her actions went further than just simply being a pest. She crossed over a line when she actually put someone's life in danger."

During his three days of misery, Taylor says, his wife had call block installed on their phone so he could not reach his doctor and took their computer apart so he could not use e-mail.

The cause of multiple chemical sensitivity is unknown, and some authorities question whether it even really exists. Taylor traces his illness to toxic mold and cleaning chemicals in the county courthouse where he worked more than 10 years ago.

Before his wife's arrest, Taylor got a restraining order against her last month, but a judge dissolved it 10 days later after Lynda Taylor's attorney argued David Taylor was exaggerating his illness.

Attorney Karen Steger showed photographs of Taylor gardening and exposing himself to chemicals and other substances without any ill effects. Steger also called friends of the couple to testify that they have worn cologne during visits to the Taylor home without bothering David Taylor.

"We've already proven him to be a fraud," Steger says.

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