WRENTHAM — For the last two years Scott Brown, a freshman state representative, and Jennifer Firth, a first term member of the board of selectmen, appeared to be living parallel lives.
Both were married young professionals, cultivated political ambitions and were active in community organizations. They shared an interest in cross country running and even attended the same church.
But the image of upwardly mobile politicians working side by side was shattered Friday when Firth filed a lawsuit claiming that Brown falsely accused her of sending him sexually explicit letters and e-mails over a two-year period.
The suit also charged that Brown made unwanted sexual advances to Firth during Brown's 1998 campaign and that he fabricated letters purporting to come from her.
The suit was filed by lawyer Harvey Schwartz of Boston in Dedham Superior Court.
Brown called the allegations “ false and hateful” and said he went to police almost two years ago after receiving “ inappropriate” letters from Firth. He declined to be more specific or release the letters, saying he planned to file a countersuit against the selectwoman.
Workers involved in Brown's 1998 state representative campaign, where Firth had briefly volunteered, cast doubt on the charges and said Firth had on at least one occasion aimed sexually-charged remarks at Brown.
Firth, a mortgage consultant at Middlesex Savings Bank, said she had been informed that Brown had shown sexually suggestive letters purportedly from her to other people in town. She said he refused to produce them and that she filed suit in response.
Firth said she did not write the letters and that “ the only way I could stop this was by filing a lawsuit.”
Brown, a Republican facing re-election in the fall, called the charges “ political trickery” and charged Firth of harassing him and his family. He said neither Firth nor her lawyer ever contacted him to see the letters.
“ This is why people don't want to become involved in politics,” said Brown. “ You're an easy target.”
Brown said he went to the police nearly two years ago after receiving harassing mail from Firth. He said he considered seeking a court order against the selectwoman but declined because he is a public figure.
Police Chief Joseph Collamati confirmed that his department investigated anonymous e-mails as well as letters alleged to have come from Firth at Brown's request. No action was ever taken, he said.
Collamati declined to comment on the contents of the letters or the conclusions drawn by the investigation.
Firth's suit charged that after she began working on his 1998 campaign, Brown engaged in “ offensive” conduct toward her and that she resigned. She said she later learned that Brown told others that she was sending him explicit letters and that he later showed them to selectmen Chairman Richard Ross.
Brown said Firth did not resign but was asked to leave a minor role in the campaign because of “ inappropriate” conduct and because supporters were uncomfortable with her.
Susan Ross, wife of selectman Ross and former finance chief for the 1998 campaign, said she was shocked at what she called “ sexual innuendoes” tossed off by Firth while the three were traveling by car to secure a police union endorsement.
“ My mouth fell open,” said Ross, who declined to repeat the remarks.
Firth said said she is not surprised that a political ally would defend Brown.
“ I don't know what she's talking about,” she said.
Bob Wyler, another Brown friend and campaign supporter, also defended the state representative.
“ He's a 100 percent gentleman,” he said. “ There's no way Scott would do something like that. It's totally out of character.”
Ironically, the filing of Firth's lawsuit came on the day when state legislation co-authored by Brown aimed at protecting victims of stalkers was approved and sent to the governor's desk.
Brown, a lawyer and former Wrentham selectman, is a candidate for re-election against Democrat John Vozzella of Walpole. He is active in the Original Congregational Church and has taken part in coaching youth football.
He is married to WCVB television reporter Gail Huff and the couple has two daughters. His district includes Wrentham, Norfolk and parts of Millis and and Walpole.
Firth attends the same church and has also worked for a variety of community organizations. She is the state public policy chair of the American Association of University Women.
Firth was elected to the board of selectmen in 1999. She and her husband Jonathan also have two daughters.