There was a buzz of excitement at back-to-school night Wednesday at Triton Regional High School, just loud enough to keep the whispers at bay for one more day.
Torrid tales about female students and young male teachers who've left mysteriously had carried over into the new school year and the rumors were about to burst from the blue lockers that line the hallways.
On Thursday, the rumors became official allegations by the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, and they're even worse than anyone had imagined.
Three teachers, Nicholas Martinelli, Jeffrey Logandro, and Daniel Michielli, are accused of official misconduct for having inappropriate sexual relationships with three female students last year, prosecutors said.
Logandro and Michielli are also charged with criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child. Michelli is charged with sexual assault.
Michielli and Logandro allegedly engaged in sexual activity with students who were under the age of 18, prosecutors said.
And the school's principal, Catherine DePaul, allegedly knew about the sexual allegations in April when a student came forward, prosecutors said, and did nothing. DePaul, a former vice principal at the school, was charged with official misconduct.
Prosecutors said DePaul, in a probable cause statement, admitted she had tried to protect the teachers.
A vice principal at Triton, Jernee Kollock, was also charged with official misconduct, prosecutors said.
When DePaul allegedly asked the student to write a statement, prosecutors said, Kollock allegedly advised her on what to write and corrected versions of the student's account.
According to prosecutors, the three teachers engaged in sexual activity with three female Triton students several times between November 2011 and June 2012. The teachers allegedly socialized with the girls outside of school, prosecutors said, and communicated with them by phone and text messages, openly, against school policy.
Prosecutors said investigators also allege the teachers also took a trip to the beach with the students and exchanged sexually explicit text messages.
Both DePaul and administrators in the school district declined to comment when reached earlier this week as did numerous other officials in the area.
Martinelli, still listed as the boys' soccer coach on Triton's website, is charged with official misconduct. The physical education teacher did not answer the door at a South Jersey home listed for him or return phone calls for comment earlier this week.
Martinelli, 28, was also a former assistant soccer coach at Philadelphia University and a standout player at Rowan University in Glassboro. He also helped coach a girls youth soccer team in Gloucester Township.
Logandro, 32, taught math and is still listed as the girls cross country and track coach at Triton. No one answered the door at Logandro's townhouse in Deptford Township earlier this week and he did not return phone calls for comment.
Michielli, 27, also taught math. No one answered the door at his Gloucester Township townhouse earlier this week and he did not return phone calls for comment.
All three teachers are suspended, prosecutors said.
Rumors about the teachers had ramped up over the last week on Facebook and Twitter after Martinelli left the school and television news crews showed up.
Parents had grown increasingly frustrated at the administration's silence, and said no letters or e-mails were sent home to address the rumors.
"I called the school on Monday. I have four girls there and I wanted to know if they were safe. They just said 'no comment," said a Triton parent from Gloucester Township who asked that her name not be published.
On Twitter, many students joked about the allegations."If my dad sees triton on the news for a sex scandal I garuntee (sic) he's making switch schools lmfao," one female student wrote on Twitter on Sept. 29.
Contact Jason Nark at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-854-5916. Follow him on Twitter @JasonNark.