Leader of 'Kony' video group to focus on health - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

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Leader of 'Kony' video group to focus on health

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SAN DIEGO (AP) - Jason Russell may be the most public face of Invisible Children, the nonprofit group he co-founded to stop African war atrocities. He narrates a 30-minute video on warlord Joseph Kony that went viral on the Internet.

Less than two weeks after the video's smashing success, Invisible Children is facing the prospect of carrying on without Russell - at least for a while. He was briefly detained by police and hospitalized after witnesses saw him running through streets in his underwear, screaming and banging his fists on the pavement.

Danica Russell said late Friday that her husband "did some irrational things brought on by extreme exhaustion and dehydration." She denied that alcohol or drug use triggered the behavior.

"We thought a few thousand people would see the film, but in less than a week, millions of people around the world saw it. While that attention was great for raising awareness about Joseph Kony, it also brought a ! lot of attention to Jason and, because of how personal the film is, many of the attacks against it were also very personal, and Jason took them very hard," she said.

"On our end, the focus remains only on his health, and protecting our family. We'll take care of Jason, you take care of the work," her statement continued. "The message of the film remains the same: stop at nothing."

San Diego police dispatcher transcripts show neighbors began calling around 11:30 a.m. Thursday to report that a man was running around in his underwear in the city's Pacific Beach neighborhood.

"(Subject) is at the corner, banging his hands on the ground, screaming, incoherent," the transcript says. "People are trying to calm him down, he's been stopping traffic."

Police Lt. Andra Brown said a 33-year-old man was taken to a hospital for medical evaluation. He was never arrested, and no charges are planned.

"At this point, the police department's involvement in the ma! tter is done," Brown said.

Russell, a San Diego native and gradu ate of the University of Southern California's film school, narrates the video, which has been viewed more than 80 million times on YouTube. In the video, Russell talks to his young son, Gavin, about Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army.

Gavin's birth is shown at the beginning of the film. At one point, the boy sums up what his dad does for a living.

"You stop the bad guys from being mean," he says.

At the video's conclusion Russell says, "At the end of my life I want to say that the world we left behind is one Gavin can be proud of, one that doesn't allow Joseph Konys and child soldiers."

Gavin replies: "I'm going to be like you dad. I'm going to come with you to Africa."

The video's overnight success has brought heightened scrutiny to the San Diego-based nonprofit over its tactics, governance and spending practices.

The group has been criticized for not spending enough directly on the people it intends to help and for oversimplifying the ! 26-year-old conflict involving the LRA and its leader, Kony, a bush fighter wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

The group acknowledged the video overlooked many nuances but said it was a "first entry point" that puts the conflict "in an easily understandable format."

Ben Keesey, chief executive officer, released a video on Monday to respond to questions about the group's finances, including the amount of money it spends on travel and operations. He said money that directly benefits the cause accounted for more than 80 percent of its spending from 2007 to 2011.

"I understand why a lot of people are wondering, 'Is this just some slick, kind of fly-by-night, slacktivist thing?' when actually it's not at all," Keesey said. "It's connected to a really deep, thoughtful, very intentional and strategic campaign."

Charity Navigator gives Invisible Children two out of four stars for accountability and transparency. The watch! dog group says organizations should have at least five independent mem bers on their boards of directors. Invisible Children has four, though it plans to add one this year.

Russell co-founded Invisible Children in 2005 and is its highest-paid employee, making $89,669 a year. He is also on the six-member board of directors, with Keesey.

Keesey, who oversees the business side of the organization while Russell makes films, said Friday that the last two weeks have taken a "severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially."

"Jason's passion and his work have done so much to help so many, and we are devastated to see him dealing with this personal health issue," Keesey said.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

THIS IS AN UPDATE TO THE PREVIOUS STORY BELOW.

SAN DIEGO (CNS/CBS 8) - A political activist who helped create a documentary that quickly grew into an Internet sensation was receiving treatment in a local hospital Friday following his arrest for an allegedly lewd, bizarre public outburst in Pacific Beach.

San Diego police took 33-year-old Jason Russell into custody late Thursday morning after he allegedly fondled himself while running and screaming in various stages of undress near the intersection of Ingraham Street and Riviera Road. According to police, the allegations that he was masturbating were made by witnesses at the scene.

Russell's "Kony 2012" expose on a brutal African warlord has become one of the most viral online videos ever. He was taken to a medical facility for an evaluation and was not expected to face charges, according to police. They also said they do not believe Russell was drunk at the time of the incident.

There were reports that Russell had also vandalized cars in the area, which police denied.

A statement from Invisible Children, the San Diego-based agency that produced the film, blamed the incident on "exhaustion, dehydration and malnutrition."

"Jason Russell was unfortunately hospitalized yesterday suffering from exhaustion, dehydration and malnutrition," according to the statement. "He is now receiving medical care and is focused on getting better. The past two weeks have taken a severe emotional toll on all of us, Jason especially, and that toll manifested itself in an unfortunate incident yesterday.

"Jason's passion and his work have done so much to help so many, and we are devastated to see him dealing with this personal health issue. We will always love and support Jason, and we ask that you give his entire family privacy during this difficult time."

"Kony 2012" has brought a massive amount of sympathy for the plight of Ugandan children, who for years have been forced by warlord Joseph Kony into militias or forced to be sex slaves.

It has also opened the door to criticism of Invisible Children, which has been accused of having questionable financial practices. The group has been trying to raise attention about problems in Africa for several years.

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