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School resource officer charged in Seneca County

Investigators with the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office report the arrest of a 20-year-old Interlaken resident following an investigation into an alleged inappropriate relationship with a student.

Elesia M. Panipinto, 20, of Interlaken was charged with official misconduct and endangering the welfare of a child. She’s accused of having an inappropriate relationship with an eighth grade student.

The student is from the South Seneca Central School District, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Investigators say Panipinto was employed as an Interlaken Village Police officer serving deputies as a School Resource Officer for the district.

Investigators allege that she used her official capacity as a police officer to gain access to the child while at school and cultivated a physical, romantic relationship.

They say there is no evidence of sexual conduct at this time, or any indication of additional victims.

Panipinto was arraigned and remanded to the Seneca County Correctional Facility. An order of protection was issued on behalf of the victim.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information related to it is encouraged to call (315) 220-3240.

South Seneca Superintendent Stephen Zielinski issued the following statement following the arrest:

“This week, as the Sheriff’s Office indicates in their press release below, the district was made aware of reported misconduct involving Elisia Panipinto, a South Seneca alumna and member of the Interlaken Police Department, who has been one of the active School Resource Officers in our buildings.

We have been shocked to be doing this particular investigation, and it is important first to thank those members of our community who came forward to report what they noticed. The witnesses helped to make sure we could catch the situation early, and to prevent it from developing further.

As always, we will continue to cooperate with law enforcement to ensure that the justice system operates as it needs to do. For our school, it is especially difficult because every person involved is someone we care about. We are committed to acting in our students’ best interests to keep them safe, which is a prime reason why we seek the use of School Resource Officers in the first place.”

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