12/07/2012 10:08 EST | Updated 02/06/2013 05:12 EST

Soldier pleads guilty to sex assault of Halifax tourist

An Edmonton soldier has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting an American woman staying at a downtown Halifax hotel two years ago.

Andrew Norman Wilson, a 23-year-old combat engineer stationed at CFB Edmonton, was supposed to go on trial Friday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax on charges of sexual assault, aggravated assault, forcible confinement, unlawfully being in a dwelling and choking a person.

Instead, Wilson pleaded guilty to the sexual assault charge. The other charges against him will remain on the file until he is sentenced and it is expected they will be withdrawn at that time.

Wilson was arrested after Halifax Regional Police were called to the Four Points by Sheraton hotel on Hollis Street in April 2010.

A woman who had just checked into the hotel with her then husband for the Easter weekend was in the hall buying a soft drink from a vending machine when a man began sexually assaulting her.

"It was a very sad situation," Crown prosecutor Catherine Cogswell said outside the courtroom Friday morning.

"Within probably a half an hour of being in Canada, the female complainant … was sexually assaulted."

The woman persuaded the man to go back to her room, where she yelled for her husband.

The attacker and the woman's husband began tussling and she fled the room to seek help from the hotel's staff.

Couple relieved not to testify

Cogswell told reporters the woman and her husband are relieved they won't have to testify. They were due in Halifax this weekend to appear in court sometime next week, had Wilson's trial continued.

"I've met with them privately and met with them together, and they both feel like they let the other person down," she said.

"They both had a lot of issues around that and as a result, they actually broke up and got a divorce because they just couldn't move on from this as a couple."

Wilson was granted bail after he was charged and ordered to stay at CFB Edmonton.

On Friday, Justice Arthur Pickup ordered a presentence report for Wilson. Cogswell and defence lawyer Patrick MacEwen will appear in court on Thursday to set a date for sentencing, which is expected in the spring.

Cogswell said she would be asking for a five-year prison term, as well as a DNA sample, a weapons prohibition and the placement of Wilson's name on the national sex offender registry.