Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide makes it even more compelling to dig deeper into that sordid affair. His trial would have shed light onto his crimes and cover-ups. The victims, who now will never get the bittersweet satisfaction of facing him in court, cannot be deprived of knowledge of how this case happened.

They, and the American public, must be told how and why the criminal-justice system mishandled the crimes of this rich and powerful predator so badly.

We need to know how Epstein’s kid-glove treatment in a Palm Beach County, Fla., stockade came to be. Here, more answers should be forthcoming now that Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered an independent investigation. It must be unflinching in its reach and thoroughness.

Shifting the spotlight to New York, where Epstein was jailed, we also need to know, first, why, contrary to our initial understanding, Epstein was put on suicide watch after an apparent attempt to kill himself in July, but not at the time that he hanged himself; second, in light of one victim’s corroborated testimony about Ghislaine Maxwell’s alleged role in Epstein’s evil sex-trafficking enterprise, why has she not yet been charged?

One young woman, Viriginia Roberts Giuffre, in her 2015 defamation suit, said Maxwell was the recruiter, the procurer of young girls to satisfy Epstein’s sexual appetite. Epstein, in death, is not the victim. The Herald and other media outlets simply held up a mirror in front of him. Ultimately, he couldn’t have liked what he saw.

This was a man who deftly avoided accountability. In fact, he had never been truly punished for his sexual abuse of dozens of young girls. Epstein was aided and abetted not just by other rich and powerful people, not just alleged twisted enablers, not just his attorneys, who were paid to defend him, but, egregiously, by the criminal-justice system itself. More than a decade ago the U.S. Attorney’s office in Miami let him skate with few consequences — 13 months in a comfortable jail cell, with work-release privileges and, reportedly, sexual privileges too.

The victims of Epstein’s sexual abuse need to have the facts as to why he was allowed to do what he did to them with relative impunity.

It’s encouraging that several lawmakers in Congress have called for investigations. Democratic U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel rightly insists that the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform quickly launch its own probe into the ridiculously lenient plea deal between then U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta’s office in Miami and Epstein’s hard-charging attorneys more than a decade ago.

It’s imperative that this happen. The Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility is conducting what amounts to an internal investigation.

Congress must conduct a investigation rooted in transparency. So far, there has been little.

Epstein was in control of every aspect of his case. He exercised it over young girls, prosecutors, wealthy peers and, finally, his exit from this life.

Now, he is dead. But the truths of this awful case must not die with him.

Miami Herald