OVID — A former Interlaken police officer and school resource officer accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a South Seneca student was arrested Thursday night.
Elisia M. Panipinto, 20, of Covert, was charged by Seneca County Sheriff’s Office investigators with official misconduct and endangering the welfare of a child. Both charges are misdemeanors.
Sheriff Tim Luce said Panipinto, while she was a school resource officer in the South Seneca school district, cultivated a physical relationship with an eighth-grader. Luce said there is no indication of sexual misconduct at this time, or other victims.
“It was kissing and holding hands,” Luce said.
An investigation into the alleged relationship was started by the Interlaken Police Department and school district. Luce said Panipinto was brought in for an unrelated disciplinary issue and resigned from the police department.
Interlaken Police Chief Leon Anderson said he learned of the alleged misconduct Tuesday and turned the investigation over to the sheriff’s office.
“The Interlaken Police Department and South Seneca School District acted quickly to this alleged complaint,” said Anderson, who is now handling school resource officer duties at South Seneca.
Anderson credited the sheriff’s office and district attorney’s office for a prompt and professional investigation into what he called an unfortunate incident.
“It is of the utmost importance of the Interlaken Village Police Department to protect all of our citizens, especially our most vulnerable citizens — our children,” Anderson said in a press release. “I am dedicated to upholding the oath and responsibility as the police chief to this great community, no matter who the alleged perpetrator is.”
Panipinto was arraigned at the county jail and remanded in lieu of $250 bail or $500 bond. She will answer the charges in Ovid Town Court.
A class A court order of protection was issued, barring Panipinto from having any contact with the student — either in person or by electronic means.
Luce said the investigation is continuing and more interviews will be done. Anyone with information related to the case is urged to contact the sheriff’s office criminal investigations division at (315) 220-3240.
“We have more interviews to do, but we believe we have a good case for the charges we have so far,” Luce said.