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Jonas Silverio, 40, was arrested Wednesday at LAX when he returned from the Philippines. He fled the U.S. in May after being put on administrative leave to avoid being arrested.
According to the sheriff's department, the inappropriate contact occurred with two female volleyball players on and off campus from Firebaugh High School.
The third victim was also a volleyball player, but from a different school in Whittier. That incident took place back in 2001, according to the sheriff's department.
"He is accused of child molestation. He is currently being charged with approximately 17 counts of lewd acts upon children," said L.A. County Sheriff's Department Deputy Aura Sierra.
A high school graduate from Firebaugh High School, who did not want to be identified, says she had heard rumors on campus about her former principal.
"The rumors were that he had sex with two of the volleyball players. I just heard two, although my mom told me that it was three. That is even worse," said the former student.
Sheriff investigators say that the first victim came around in February. Silverio is in custody and his bail is set at $1 million.
"He was always very respectful, nothing ever made me feel uncomfortable. He was always helpful. Whenever I would talk to him about my classes he would always try to help me. Nothing ever seemed wrong," said the unidentified student.
Silverio has worked at a number of schools in the L.A. area, and police said they are investigating allegations against him dating as far back as 1996.
Anyone with information about Silverio is asked to call the L.A. County Sheriff's Department Special Victim's Bureau at (866) 247-5877.