USF student caught in sex sting

A weeklong undercover sex sting in Wildwood in Sumter County led to the arrest of a USF student who authorities believe was attempting to engage in sexual conduct with a minor.

Twenty-year-old Ishan Howard was arrested March 20 when county detectives, who posed as 14-year-old children online, directed him to a private residence to have sex.

Anthony Caruthers of the detention support staff for the Sumter County Detention Center said Howard was charged with four felonies: obscene communication through use of computers to solicit a parent, guardian or child for sex; obscene communication to travel and meet; use of two-way communication to facilitate a felony and cruelty toward a child.

Howard was released Tuesday on $80,000 bond.

Justin Martin, a 2010 USF alumnus, said Howard was his roommate on campus in either 2008 or 2009, Martin’s “sophomore or junior year.”

“(This) is incredibly shocking (to me),” he said of Howard’s arrest. “I never knew he would be capable of something like that.”

Martin said Howard was a freshman when they were roommates and “seemed normal at the time.”

“When (we) were roommates, I didn’t see any problems – he had a girlfriend, he had a somewhat stable life,” Martin said. “He was very outgoing, he liked to hang out a lot. He was always eager to find out what else was out there.”

According to a release on the Sumter County Sherriff’s Office website, 22 arrests were made as a result of the sting. Those arrested were charged with a total of 50 felonies and three misdemeanors.