A senior state judicial officer has created new pressure to settle dozens of child sexual abuse claims against St. Francis Hospital by taking the unusual step of authorizing mediators working separately in the state and federal courts to consolidate their efforts. Chief Court Administrator Barbara Quinn's order is likely to direct some of that pressure at The Travelers Companies, which is involved in abuse-related lawsuits in both courts and has most of the hospital's insurance coverage, lawyers familiar with the case said. The victims of hospital endocrinologist Dr. George Reardon and some hospital representatives have questioned Travelers' commitment to resolving cases before they reach trial. In the short term, Quinn's mediation appears to derail plans by the St. Francis insurers to block the Reardon victims from joining a federal lawsuit that could determine the terms of the hospital's coverage—and the amount of money available for future settlements. Reardon abused as many as 500 children in his hospital office after St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center appointed him its chief of endocrinology in 1963. He held the position for about 30 years, until two of his earliest victims, then adults, complained to state medical regulators. The victims claim their abuse was the result of hospital negligence.